Picture Books for Older Readers
Feature Column - Resource Links V. 6, # 4, April 2001
During the last year a number of Canadian picture books have been published which have
far-reaching appeal beyond the
primary grades. Below are just a few that could be used quite effectively in elementary
and junior high social studies programs.
Bannatyne-Cugnet, Jo. From Far and Wide: A Canadian Citizenship Scrapbook. Tundra
Books, 2000. (Gr. 2 up)
Xiao Ling Lo and her family are getting ready for a very special event, their Canadian
citizenship ceremony and she decides to
commemorate the day with a scrapbook. The scrapbook contains information about the
citizenship ceremony as seen from the eyes
of a young immigrant. The book also includes a copy of the Oath of Citizenship, the lyrics
of Oh Canada and information on the
rights and responsibilities Canadian citizenship entails.
An excellent introduction to Canadian citizenship for all ages.
Crook, Connie Brummel. Laura Secords Brave Walk. Second Story Press, 2000. (Gr. 3
Connie Brummel Crook brings Laura Secords story to life for a young audience in this
picture book. She weaves the historical
facts with the daily life as it might very well have been in Upper Canada during the War
of 1812. The book highlights Lauras life on
the farm with her wounded husband and children during the war and her famous
walk to inform Lieutenant James Fitzgibbon about
the impending attack by the Americans at Beaver Dams.
This book could be used at various levels as an introduction to the War of 1812.
Grassby, Donna. A Seaside Alphabet. Illustrated by Susan Tooke. Tundra Books, 2000.
In this beautiful picture book of Atlantic Canada, Susan Tookes vivid seaside
illustrations are accompanied by alliterative text
which will be enjoyed on many levels. Young children will enjoy the pictures (especially
trying to find all the items that begin with
each letter of the alphabet) and the poetic language while older students can use the book
as a starting point for a history/geography
lesson on Atlantic Canada. The author provides some background information in the
introduction as well as a list of items in each
picture and factual information about each picture in a section at the back.
Great for Language Arts and Social Studies.
Major, Kevin. Eh? to Zed: A Canadian ABcCedarium. Red Deer Press, 2000. (Gr. K
At first glance, it's an alphabet book in rhyming verse, with each letter represented by
four Canadian images. Look closely, and
it's a sampler of all that is Canadian, from nationally-known regional figures such as
Bonhomme, Ogopogo and Evangeline, to famous
discoveries such as insulin.
The glossary of brief information about each word choice will even get the young
researcher started. Alan Daniel expands this
glossary with brief notes on the inspiration for many of his illustrations.
A great starter for a Canadian social studies program.
Trottier, Maxine. Flags. Stoddart Kids, 1999. (Gr. 3 up)
Flags is a powerful retelling of a dark incident in Canadian history - the Japanese
Canadian internment during World War II.
Maxine Trottier has taken a small piece of this much larger and more complex story and
told it in a language and setting which
young children can understand.
Young Mary, sent to spend the summer with her grandmother on the west coast, befriends Mr.
Hiroshi the next door neighbour,
who teachers her how he cares for his beloved garden. One morning two soldiers come and
leave a note on Mr. Hiroshis door. He
too, must be sent to the internment camp. Mary promises to care for his garden until his
return but as time passes she realizes that
he is not coming back and she has to come to terms with that reality.
Trottier, Maxine. Storm at Batoche. Stoddart Kids, 2000. (Gr. K up)
Through an imaginary encounter between a young boy and a man named Louis
during a storm near Batoche, Trottier introduces
young children to the Riel Rebellion. While the story does not directly mention
Riels name, the rebellion or the Battle of Batoche,
there are overtones which suggest that all is not well with the man called
Louis. A 2-page authors note at the end of the book gives
a brief factual overview of Riels life and his involvement with the Metis in their
struggle to retain the land which they felt was rightfully
A great introduction to this important period in Canadian history.
Wallace, Ian. Duncans Way. Groundwood Books, 2000. (Gr. 2 up)
Duncans family has been involved in the Newfoundland fishery for seven generations,
but now the fish are gone and with them the
old way of life. Duncans father spends his days watching TV and baking bread and
pies while his mother works at the local grocery
store. When his parents make the decision to move away to look for work, Duncan comes up
with an idea which combines his
fathers baking skills with his experience as a ships skipper, so that they
might be able to stay in Newfoundland. Shows the
emotional and financial effects of the demise of the Newfoundland cod fishery. Great
Wilson, Janet. Imagine That! Stoddart Kids, 2000 (All ages)
On her 100th birthday Auntie Violet reminisces with her great grandniece and wonders at
all the changes that have taken place in
her lifetime. Sidebars list historical facts chronologically by decade from 1900-2000 and
collage type illustrations portray
achievements and milestones of the past 100 years. The sidebars for each decade are
colour-coded and designed to match images
of the same colour in the illustrations.
Lots of Canadian content.