Your Back to School Reading Guide: Subject by Subject

School’s almost back on and we have a reading list for that! Here are our reading recommendations for English, History, Math, Science and Sex Ed. Which one is your favourite subject?


Any Questions? by Marie-Louise Gay (Groundwood Books, 2014) Ages 4-8

This picture book is a whimsical exploration of the writing process. When Marie-Louise Gay has a fictional encounter with some very curious children, they end up collaborating on a fantastical story within a story. Here is a world where kids can become part of the story and let their imaginations run wild… and maybe they will be inspired to create stories of their own.

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Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Qin Leng (Balzer & Bray, 2018) Ages 4-8

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is one of our greatest writers. But before that, she was just an ordinary girl. In fact, young Jane was a bit quiet and shy; if you had met her back then, you might not have noticed her at all. But she would have noticed you. This is a gorgeous and inspiring picture book biography of Jane Austen, one of the most beloved writers of all time, from award-winning author Deborah Hopkinson.

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Polly Dimaond and the Magic Book by Alice Kuipers, illustrated by Diana Toledano (Chronicle Books, 2018) Ages 6-9

The first in a delightfully funny and magical chapter book series perfect for fans of Ivy + Bean, Amelia Bedelia, and Dory Fantasmagory!

Polly loves words. And she loves writing stories. So when a magic book appears on her doorstep that can make everything she writes happen in real life, Polly is certain all of her dreams are about to come true. But she soon learns that what you write and what you mean are not always the same thing!”

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Canada Year By Year by Elizabeth MacLeod, illustrated by Sydney Smith (Kids Can Press, 2016) Ages 8-12

Take a tour of Canada’s fascinating history! This timely title highlights a milestone for every year from Confederation in 1867, up to our Sesquicentennial in 2017 (1880: O Canada! 1947: Alberta Oil!). Along with featured stories, the pages are filled with short biographies, important firsts, quotes and trivia. This is a compelling snapshot of the people, places and events that have shaped our country — one year at a time.

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Meet Viola Desmond by Elizabeth MacLeod, illustrated by Mike Deas (Scholastic Canada, 2018) Ages 6-10

On the night of November 8th 1946, Nova Scotia businesswoman Viola Desmond stood up for her right to be in the “unofficial” whites-only section of a New Glasgow movie theatre… and was arrested for it. Supported by the Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NSCAACP) and the black-owned newspaper The Clarion, Viola took her quest for the right to freedom from discrimination to the courts. While she ultimately did not succeed, she was a beacon to other early civil-rights activists. Her sister Wanda worked hard to promote Viola’s legacy, which has been finally honoured by Viola’s inclusion on the new Canadian $10 bill.

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Speaking  Our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation by Monique Gray Smith (Orca Book Publishers, 2017) Ages 10 and up

Canada’s relationship with its Indigenous people has suffered as a result of both the residential school system and the lack of understanding of the historical and current impact of those schools. Guided by acclaimed Indigenous author Monique Gray Smith, readers will learn about the lives of survivors and learn from the allies who are putting the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into action.

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Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Dow Phumiruk (Henry Holt and Co., 2018) Ages 5-9

You’ve likely heard of the historic Apollo 13 moon landing. But do you know about the mathematical genius who made sure that Apollo 13 returned safely home? As a child, Katherine Johnson loved to count. She counted the steps on the road, the number of dishes and spoons she washed in the kitchen sink, everything! Boundless, curious and excited by calculations, young Katherine longed to know as much as she could about math, about the universe.

From Katherine’s early beginnings as a gifted student to her heroic accomplishments as a prominent mathematician at NASA, Counting on Katherine is the story of a groundbreaking American woman who not only calculated the course of moon landings but, in turn, saved lives and made enormous contributions to history.

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The Great Number Rumble: A Story of Math in Surprising Places by Cora Lee and Gillian O’Reilly, illustrated by Lil Crump (Annick Press, 2016) Ages 9-12

Math shows up in the most unlikely places! When the schools in Jeremy’s town ban math, the kids cheer, all except Sam, who sets out to prove that math is important and fun. Running parallel to the fictional narrative are informative sidebars that discuss the weird, puzzling and amusing aspects of mathematics.

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Hungry for Math: Poems to Munch On by Kari-Lynn Winters and Lori Sherrit-Fleming, illustrated by Peggy Collins (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2015) Ages 6-9

Add some fun to your math with this entertaining poetry collection for young readers. It focuses on math skills such as measuring time, patterning, estimating, understanding symmetry and more! With a hilarious cast of characters like Spendosaur and the rot-TEN dragons, concepts like base ten, skip-counting and logical thinking come to life. A creative way to introduce a new math concept in a primary classroom!

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Biometrics: Your Body and the Science of Security by Maria Birmingham, illustrated by Ian Turner (Owlkids Books, 2017) Ages 12 and up

Welcome to the amazing world of biometrics, where many of the things that make you unique — your fingerprints, voice or eyes — can prove your identity! Biometrics can even identify people based on ear shape, scent and vein pattern! This fascinating book explores the science and its possibilities, as well as concerns about what this technology means for our privacy!

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Engineered! Engineering Design at Work by Shannon Hunt, illustrated by James Gulliver Hancock (Kids Can Press, 2017) Ages 9 and up

How do you land a rover on Mars, resolve a perpetual traffic jam or save a herd of caribou from potential extinction? Ask an engineer! Learn the key steps of an engineering design process, then see it come to life in nine stories of real-world engineering ingenuity! This introduction to the practical applications of engineering will inspire the natural engineer in every child.

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Professor Astro Cat’s Atomic Adventure by Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman, illustrated by Ben Newman (Flying Eye Books, 2016) Ages 7-14

Switch your brain to stun and hold on tight because our trusty feline teacher, Professor Astro Cat, is ready to take you on a journey through the incredible world of physics. In this brilliant follow-up to Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space, learn about energy, forces and the building blocks of you, me and the universe!

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Scientist, Scientist, What Do you See by Chris Ferrie (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2018) Ages 4-8

Full of scientific rhyming fun, Scientist, Scientist, Who Do You See? features appearances by some of the world’s greatest scientists! From Albert Einstein to Marie Curie and Ahmed Zewail, and from Charles Darwin to Chien-Shiung Wu and Grace Hopper… and more!

Scientist, Scientist, Who do you see?
I see Marie Curie in her laboratory!

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