Family Literacy Day (January 27, 2013)

In celebration of Family Literacy Day, the Canadian Children’s Book Centre has compiled a list of 30 Canadian books (10 picture books, 10 works of junior/intermediate fiction and 10 works of young adult fiction) that share in the joys (and struggles) of families of all sizes and combinations. Why not celebrate this year’s Family Literacy Day with one of these fine books. Reading levels are listed by grade; interest levels are listed by age.


Alligator BabyAlligator Baby
Written by Robert Munsch
Illustrated by Michael Martchenko
Scholastic Canada, 2012
ISBN 978-1-4431-1399-1
Grade 1 / Ages 0-3
Kristen’s parents bring the new baby home from the hospital! But it wasn’t Kristen’s little brother they brought home! They end up bringing home a baby from the zoo and not Kristen’s little baby brother. Now available in board book format.

Caramba and HenryCaramba and Henry
Written and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Groundwood Books, 2011
ISBN 978-1-55498-097-0
Grades 2-3 / Ages 2-8
Caramba always wished for a little brother, but Caramba’s little brother, Henry, is a nightmare. He won’t share, he squishes Caramba’s caterpillars and he screams all the time. But to Caramba’s dismay, Henry is learning how to fly. How is Caramba supposed to keep an eye on his little brother when Caramba is the only cat in the world who can’t fly? This sequel to Caramba is also available in French as Caramba et Henri.

Dogs Don’t Eat Jam and Other Things Big Kids KnowDogs Don’t Eat Jam and Other Things Big Kids Know
Written by Sarah Tsiang
Illustrated by Qin Leng
Annick Press, 2011
ISBN 978-1-55451-359-8
Grade 2 / Ages 3-6
The big sister in this story is more than happy to teach her new baby brother all he needs to know. From learning how to drink milk and get Mom and Dad’s attention to potty training and dressing oneself, she explains what it’s like to grow up. A perfect book for children who are about to welcome a new sibling into the family.

A Few BlocksA Few Blocks
Written by illustrated by Cybèle Young
Groundwood Books, 2011
ISBN 978-0-88899-995-5
                                    Grade 2 / Ages 4-7
In this exquisitely illustrated book Ferdie doesn’t want to go to school, but his creative sister, Viola, knows just how to get him there. Using her rich imagination, she creates scenario after scenario to keep her little brother moving. But when Viola gets tired, it’s up to Ferdie to create a distraction that will get Viola up and moving again.

Give Me Back My DadGive Me Back My Dad
Written by Robert Munsch
Illustrated by Michael Martchenko
Scholastic Canada, 2011
ISBN 978-1-4431-0764-8
Grade 2 / Ages 3-7
Cheryl and her dad go ice fishing, but the fish at this spot are very clever and can be quite tricky to catch. Cheryl is sure she’s smarter than a fish, though, and decides to try her luck out anyway. When Cheryl gets tricked, it’s up to her dad to save her. Who will win the final battle — the fish or Cheryl? This title is also available in French as Rends-moi mon papa!

Here Comes HortenseHere Comes Hortense!
Written by Heather Hartt-Sussman
Illustrated by Georgia Graham
ISBN 978-1-77049-221-9
Grade 2 / Ages 5-7
What could be more fun for a six-year-old than having your nana and her new husband take you to a theme park? But the fun is spoiled when they are joined by Bob’s granddaughter, Hortense, who shares Nana’s room, listens to her stories and goes on all the scary rides with her.

My Mother Is WeirdMy Mother Is Weird
Written by Rachna Gilmore
Illustrated by Brenda Jones
Acorn Press
ISBN 978-1-894838-74-0
Grades 2-3 / Ages 3-7
A hilarious look at a child’s view of a mother’s bad day. Originally published in 1988 by Ragweed Press, this book is considered to be a PEI classic. This unique view of a mother’s “bad day” through the observant eyes of a child is a weird and wonderful story for parents and children.

A Song for My SisterA Song for My Sister
Written by Lesley Simpson
Illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss
Random House Children’s Books, 2012
ISBN 978-1-58246-427-5
                                    Grades 2-3 / Ages 4-7
On the day of her simchat bat, her Jewish naming ceremony, Mira’s baby sister cries – as usual! That is, until Mira steps close to offer her own special gift and the inspiration for her parents’ choice of the perfect name.

Stanley's Little SisterStanley’s Little Sister
Written by Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Bill Slavin
Kids Can Press, 2010
ISBN 978-1-55453-487-6
                                    Grade 2 / Ages 3-7
Stanley knew he wasn’t supposed to chase the cat, but who invited her to live here anyway? Not Stanley! But knowing he’s supposed to be a good dog Stanley tries to be friendly. He even seeks advice from his friends at the dog park, but nothing works. Will this cat ever warm up to Stanley?

The Ways I Will Love YouThe Ways I Will Love You
Written by Rachel Boehm
Illustrated by Mary Jane Gerber
Orca Book Publishers, 2010
ISBN 978-1-55469-187-6
Grades 1-2 / Ages 0-3
In rhyme a mother recites to her newborn baby the many ways she will love and nurture him as he grows. Illustrator Mary Jane Gerber has captured the essence of each stanza in the illustrations that encircle it and on the facing page she portrays mother and child engaged in an activity together.


Better Than WeirdBetter Than Weird
Written by Anna Kerz
Orca Book Publishers, 2011
ISBN 978-1-55469-362-7
Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-12
In this stand-alone sequel to The Mealworm Diaries, Aaron has made a couple of friends and at least one enemy. Anxiously awaiting the arrival of his father, whom he hasn’t seen in many years, Aaron is trying to cope with bullying at school, his grandmother’s illness and his father’s pregnant new wife. Aaron worries his father will think he’s too weird and leave again and wonders how he can make his dad proud.

Colette and the Silver SamovarColette and the Silver Samovar
(Orca Young Readers)
Written by Nancy Belgue
Orca Book Publishers, 2010
ISBN 978-1-55469-321-4
Grades 3-4 / Ages 8-11
When her mother falls into a coma, Colette must go and stay with her grandparents whom she does not know at all. Her father, who is visiting his parents in Iran, cannot be reached. Colette is determined to find a way to mend the rifts that threaten to destroy the people she loves.

Encore EdieEncore Edie
Written by Annabel Lyon
Puffin Canada, 2011
ISBN 978-0-14-317741-8
Grades 5-7 / Ages 10 and up
Edie Snow is 13 and the youngest kid in her high school. Struggling to fit in, she joins the school play to avoid walking home from school with her cousin Merry who has Down syndrome. But when the school musical alienates Edie from her schoolmates even further, she’s got to find help fast.

The Green ManThe Green Man
Written by Michael Bedard
Tundra Books, 2012
ISBN 978-1-77049-285-1
Grades 6-7 / Ages 10-14
Fifteen-year-old O, not Ophelia, agrees to spend the summer with her Aunt Emily, an eccentric poet and owner of a secondhand bookshop. While O attempts to bring order to the shop, she begins to write poetry herself, uncovers mysteries she cannot sweep away and falls under the spell of a strange boy. Will O be able to discover the truth behind the dark forces from Emily’s past that threaten to awaken once more?

Joy of ApexJoy of Apex
Written by Napatsi Folger
Illustrated by Ann Kronheimer
Inhabit Media Inc., 2011
ISBN 978-1-926569-47-5
Grades 4-5 / Ages 9-10
Joy is ten years old, living in Apex, Nunavut — a suburb of Iqaluit — and loving life. But when Joy begins to notice her parents fighting a lot more than usual, Joy’s perfect life soon becomes a lot more complicated. Navigating her parents’ separation and its effect on her family, Joy learns valuable lessons about how to cope when life gets tough.

Living RoughLiving Rough
(Orca Currents)
Written by Cristy Watson
Orca Book Publishers, 2011
ISBN 978-1-55469-434-1
Grades 3-4 / Ages 10-14
Edgar is like most of the kids at school — he thinks about girls, hangs out with his best friend after school and has a father who helps him with his homework. But Edgar has a secret that he doesn’t want to get out — he and his dad have become homeless because his dad lost his job while caring for his dying wife. When his secret goes public, Edgar worries he’ll be taken away from his dad.

Middle of NowhereMiddle of Nowhere
Written by Caroline Adderson
Groundwood Books, 2012
ISBN 978-1-55498-132-8
Grades 5-7 / Ages 10-14
When Curtis’s mom doesn’t come home from her all-night shift at the gas bar, he isn’t worried and he’s sure she’ll be back eventually. He’s pretty good at looking after himself and his little brother anyway and he’s sure they can manage on their own. The boys form an unlikely friendship with their cranky neighbour, Mrs. Burt, who tries to take care of and protect the boys.

Outcasts of River FallsOutcasts of River Falls
Written by Jacqueline Guest
Coteau Books, 2012
ISBN 978-1-55050-480-4
Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-12
After Kathryn’s father’s death, she moves to Alberta to live with her Aunt Belle. Having never learned about the struggles of her Métis relations, she begins to learn about them from her aunt. When a mysterious highwayman comes to town and is framed for a crime, Aunt Belle tries to protect him. Is she placing herself in danger, and how will Kathryn be able to help? This is the sequel to Belle of Batoche.

A Tinfoil SkyA Tinfoil Sky
Written by Cyndi Sand-Eveland
Tundra Books, 2012
ISBN 978-1-77049-277-6
Grades 5-7 / Ages 10-14
Mel and her mom Cecily don’t have a home. When Cecily announces that they are moving to her mother’s, Mel hopes that things will finally be different. But when Mel’s grandmother refuses to let them in, they are forced to live in their broken-down station wagon. After Cecily is arrested, Mel goes to live with her grandmother and finds sanctuary in the local library.

Tumbleweed SkiesTumbleweed Skies
Written by Valerie Sherrard
Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2010
ISBN 978-1-55455-113-2
Grade 3 / Ages 8-12
The moment Lizzie and her father pull up in front of Grandmother Ackelbee’s farm in Weyholt, Saskatchewan, Lizzie knows she isn’t wanted. But Lizzie’s father has just taken a job as a travelling salesman and he has no other choice. The road is not the place for a nine-year-old.


Death BenefitsDeath Benefits
Written by Sarah N. Harvey
Orca Book Publishers, 2010
ISBN 978-1-55469-226-2
Grades 6-7 / Ages 12 and up
Royce and his mom have moved to Victoria, British Columbia, to be closer to her father who is a cantankerous old man. When Royce is hired to look after his eccentric 95-year-old grandfather, he gets to know him better and discovers his grandfather’s life still has meaning.

How to Survive Absolutely AnythingHow to Survive Absolutely Anything
Written by Helaine Becker
Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2012
ISBN 978-1-55455-188-0
Grades 6-7 / Ages 12 and up
Fourteen-year-old Bonnie and her friend Jen decide to create a blog to help other teenagers survive the terrible teen years. But giving advice turns out to be a lot more than Bonnie and Jen bargained for. Their own lives are pretty challenging with way too many siblings, troubled parents, boys that don’t call back and the normal general mayhem that surrounds teenagers. Can Bonnie and Jen’s friendship survive?

Written by Monique Polak
Orca Book Publishers, 2011
ISBN 978-1-55469-330-6
Grades 7-9 / Ages 12 and up
Ani is 16 and lives in the tiny town of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré in Quebec where her family run a souvenir shop. Ani and her sister could not be more different and Ani feels she must protect the younger girl. When Ani’s mom has an accident, and Ani finds out about something shocking in her mother’s past, she questions her whole existence and how she wants to live her life.

Nobody Cries at BingoNobody Cries at Bingo
Written by Dawn Dumont
Thistledown Press, 2011
ISBN 978-1-897235-84-3
Grades 6-7 / Ages 13 and up
The reader is invited to witness the Dumont family’s life on the Okanese First Nation reserve, as narrated by Dawn herself. As she recounts with wry humour her story of family and school life and off-reserve experiences, the tale of a girl who loves to read begins to unfold. It is her hopes, dreams and incredible humour that reveal to us the beauty and love within her family.

The Opposite of TidyThe Opposite of Tidy
Written by Carrie Mac
Razorbill, 2012
ISBN 978-0-14-318091-3
Grades 8-9 / Ages 13 and up
Junie’s mom is a hoarder, and Junie is embarrassed to let Wade, the hot new guy at school, know where she lives. She pretends she lives at her best friend Tabitha’s house, and Tabitha and her mom are willing to play along for the time being. But when Junie and her mother’s world gets turned inside out for the whole world to see, they must face the consequences of all their lies.

The Right & the RealThe Right & the Real
Written by Joëlle Anthony
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2012
ISBN 978-0-399-25525-0
Grades 9-10 / Ages 14 and up
Seventeen-year-old Jamie’s been kicked out onto the streets for refusing to join the Right and the Real Church with her recovering-alcoholic father. Heartbroken, and with life in upheaval, Jamie forms an unlikely friendship with an ex-con, which might just help her through the most difficult challenge ahead: rescuing, and perhaps forgiving, her father.

Written by Tish Cohen
HarperCollins Canada, 2011
ISBN 978-1-55468-801-2
Grades 6-7 / Ages 12 and up
Andrea Birch is a hard-working Grade 12 student whose parents can’t turn away a foster child. All she’d like is a little time to herself and a social life. Along comes Joules Adams who lives a life of luxury and gets away with everything. Andrea wishes she had Joules’s life but eventually realizes that no one’s life is as easy as it appears.

Written by Alan Cumyn
Groundwood Books, 2011
ISBN 978-1-55498-110-6
Grades 8-9 / Ages 14 and up
Stan desperately wants to make the junior varsity basketball team. But when basketball is cancelled and Janine Igwash starts to pay attention to him, he thinks he’s going crazy. When his dad shows up with his four-year-old half brother, his home life becomes even more absurd.

What is RealWhat is Real
Written by Karen Rivers
Orca Book Publishers, 2011
ISBN 978-1-55469-356-6
Grades 8-9 / Ages 14 and up
Dex Pratt’s life used to be perfect, but since his parents got divorced and his dad attempted suicide, that’s no longer the case. When Dex returns to his small-town life to care for his wheelchair-bound father, he finds his dad has given up defending marijuana growers in court and has become one himself. Unable to cope, Dex turns to drugs and has a hard time differentiating between what is real and what is not.

The Yo-Yo ProphetThe Yo-Yo Prophet
Written by Karen Krossing
Orca Book Publishers, 2011
ISBN 978-1-55469-827-1
Grades 7-9 / Ages 12 and up
Calvin’s mother is dead, and his father has let him down time and time again. He lives with his grandmother who is having a difficult time running her dry-cleaning shop. When Calvin discovers how good he is at working a yo-yo, he takes up street performing and becomes an overnight sensation.