Family Literacy Day (January 27, 2015)

Family Literacy Day, held annually on January 27, was created to encourage families to engage in literacy-based activities together. The Canadian Children’s Book Centre has compiled a list of Canadian books that share in the joys (and struggles) of families of all sizes and combinations, and invite conversation for readers of all ages. Celebrate this year’s Family Literacy Day with one of these fine books. Reading levels (RL) are listed by grade; interest levels (IL) are listed by age.

Board Books

Big or Little?
Written by Kathy Stinson
Illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell
Annick Press, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-55451-610-0
IL: Ages 0-4  RL: Grade 1
This book offers reassuring insights into a toddler’s transition from being “little” to being “big.” Being little means taking a nap when you don’t feel tired, being big means putting on your own shoes! It’s good to feel big, but sometimes being little is okay, too. The short text and delightful illustrations make it easy for toddlers to relate. Originally published in hardcover and paperback in 1983, by Annick Press, with illustrations by Robin Baird Lewis.
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Lots of Kisses
Written by Lorna Crozier
Orca Book Publishers, 2014
ISBN 978-1-4598-0745-7
IL: Ages 0-3  RL: Grade 1
Award-winning poet Lorna Crozier’s soothing lullaby delights the kisses for baby from head to toe. Combined with beautiful photographs, this is the perfect board book for parents and caregivers to snuggle up and read with their oh-so-kissable little ones.
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Love You More
Written Susan Musgrave
Illustrated by Esperança Melo
Orca Book Publishers, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4598-0240-7
IL: Ages 0-4  RL: Grade 1
Spanning one full calendar year, this rhyming board book celebrates the deep love between parent and child. Rendered in couplets, the verses combine expressions of affection with vivid imagery from the natural world, making it ideal for teaching young ones about the seasons and the beauty of nature. With vibrant, heart-warming illustrations, this is perfect to read aloud while snuggling with baby.
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Sweetest of All
Written by Jean Little
Illustrated by Marisol Sarrazin
Scholastic Canada, 2014
ISBN 978-1-4431-3336-4
IL: Ages 0-5  RL: Grade 1
Frolicking baby animals are born, putting smiles of love on their mothers’ faces. Each time a new animal is born, another mother yearns for her own. When a new human mom shows off her baby, it’s the sweetest one of all… because it’s her very own. Originally published in hardcover as The Sweetest One of All in 2008, by North Winds Press/Scholastic Canada. This title is also available in French as Mon petit trésor.
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Picture Books

Fire Pie Trout
Written by Melanie Mosher
Illustrated by Renné Benoit
Fifth House Publishers, 2014
ISBN 978-1-92708-318-5
IL: Ages 4 and up  RL: Grades 2-3
Grace loves being with Gramps, but there are things she is not so sure of: scary movies, the dark and trying new things. So when Gramps takes her fishing on a dark, foggy morning, she has her doubts. How can she tell Gramps she’s not so keen on adventure without spoiling their time together? This book brings the warmth of a special relationship and the excitement of growing just a little bigger to the darkest, foggiest of mornings.
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A Gift for Sophie
Written by Gilles Vigneault
Illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch
Translated by Jacob Homel
The Secret Mountain, 2013
ISBN 978-2-923163-98-7
IL: Ages 4-8  RL: Grades 2-3
This story depicts the timeless and enduring tale of a coming-of-age friendship between two child characters, Sophie and Emilio. As young protagonists, they enjoy making new discoveries and passing time with Sophie’s great uncle known as “Old Man Tom.” Through a series of allegorical events, he ultimately helps Sophie and Emilio learn a new way of seeing the world: with their hearts. This title is also available in French as Un cadeau pour Sophie. Includes a CD.
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Mama’s Day with Little Gray
Written by Aimee Reid
Illustrated by Laura J. Bryant
Random House Children’s Books, 2014
ISBN 978-0-449-81083-5
IL: Ages 3-7  RL: Grades 1-2
What would it be like if, one day, Little Gray were the big elephant and Mama the small one? Little Gray can picture it perfectly. He’d shade her from the sun, teach her to make mud, and find pictures in the clouds with her. He would take as good care of her as she does of him. This charming, heartwarming story portrays a child’s wish to grow up… but still stay close to his mother.
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Read Me a Story, Stella
(A Stella and Sam Book)
Written and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Groundwood Books, 2013
ISBN 978-1-55498-216-5
IL: Ages 3-7  RL: Grades 2-3
Stella introduces little brother Sam to the pleasures of reading. Sam is as busy and worried as ever, and Stella almost always has her nose in a book these days, but she finds time to help him out, while sharing her new pastime with contagious enthusiasm. This title is also available in French as Raconte-moi une histoire, Stella.
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Shh! My Brother’s Napping
Written and illustrated by Ruth Ohi
Scholastic Canada, 2014
ISBN 978-1-4431-1993-1
IL: Ages 2-7  RL: Grades 1-2
“Shh! My brother’s napping. He really needs his sleep,” admonishes his older brother. But there are pots to bang, blocks to stack and all sorts of fun to be had. It’s so hard to be quiet! After a tower of books and blocks comes crashing down, little brother is wide awake, and it’s finally time to bring out the rest of the toys and have some fun! But who’s that yawning now? This title is also available in French as Chut! Mon frère fait dodo.
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Wild Berries
Written and illustrated by Julie Flett
Simply Read Books, 2013
ISBN 978-1-897476-89-5
IL: Ages 3-8  RL: Grade 2
Spend the day picking wild blueberries with Clarence and his grandmother. Meet ant, spider and fox in a beautiful woodland landscape, the ancestral home of author and illustrator Julie Flett. This book is written in both English and Cree, in particular the n-dialect, also known as Swampy Cree from the Cumberland House area.
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Junior & Intermediate Fiction

Awake and Dreaming
(Puffin Classics)
Written by Kit Pearson
Puffin Canada, 2013
ISBN 978-0-14-318788-2
IL: Ages 9-13  RL: Grade 6
Theo feels trapped in her poverty… but when she is mysteriously adopted by the Kaldor family, it’s a dream come true. When the magic fades and she finds herself back with her mother, she wonders if it was just a dream. And will she ever be able to find a real home? Includes an introduction by Kenneth Oppel. Originally published in 1996, by Viking.
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Finding Grace
(A Gutsy Girl Book)
Written by Becky Citra
Second Story Press, 2014
ISBN 978-1-927583-25-8
IL: Ages 9-12  RL: Grades 4-6
It is 1954, and 11-year-old Hope has been secretly writing to her imaginary friend, Grace, all her life. When her grandmother dies, a long-held family secret is revealed — Grace is real. Hope convinces her mother they must find Grace — that she is the missing piece that binds their family together.
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Outside In
Written by Sarah Ellis
Groundwood Books, 2014
ISBN 978-1-55498-367-4
IL: Ages 10-13  RL: Grades 5-6
Lynn’s life is full — choir practice, school, friends, and dealing with her free-spirited mother. Then one day her life is saved by a mysterious girl named Blossom, who introduces Lynn to her own world and family of Underlanders who live off the grid. Lynn is enchanted and amazed. But when she inadvertently reveals their secret, Lynn is forced to take measure of her own motives and figure out what it means to be a family, and a friend.
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Seven Wild Sisters: A Modern Fairy Tale
Written by Charles de Lint
Illustrated by Charles Vess
Little, Brown and Company, 2014
ISBN 978-0-316-05356-3
IL: Ages 8-12  RL: Grades 4-6
Sarah Jane has always wanted to meet a fairy, but she has no idea that the tiny wounded man she discovers in the Tanglewood Forest is about to ensnare her in a war between magical clans. When her six sisters are kidnapped, she’ll need the help of several friends to bring them home. They must untangle themselves from the feud or be trapped in the fairy world forever. This is a companion novel to The Cats of Tanglewood Forest.
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The Stowaways
Written by Meghan Marentette
Illustrated by Dean Griffiths
Pajama Press, 2013
ISBN 978-1-927485-33-0
IL: Ages 8-12  RL: Grades 3-4
Unlike the other Weedle mice, the Stowaways love to go on adventures — even when it means getting close to humans! But when Rory and his gran plan to rescue Grampa Stowaway, who everyone else thinks is dead, the adventure may be far more than Rory bargained for, but it could also be the greatest Stowaway adventure of all.
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Walking Home
Written by Eric Walters
Doubleday Canada, 2014
ISBN 978-0-385-68157-5
IL: Ages 10 and up  RL: Grades 5-6
Set in both the wilds and slums of Kenya, a powerful story about a brother and sister’s brave journey to find a place to call home. Muchoki and Jata set off on what seems like an impossible journey: to walk hundreds of kilometers to find their last remaining family.
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Young Adult Fiction

Rabbit Ears
Written by Maggie de Vries
HarperTrophyCanada, 2014
ISBN 978-1-44341-662-7
IL: Ages 14 and up  RL: Grades 8-9
Kaya is adopted, multiracial, grieving the death of her father — and carrying a painful secret. She runs away repeatedly to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, gradually disappearing into a life of addiction and sex work. Her sister Beth escapes her own troubles with food and a rediscovered talent for magic tricks. Though both girls struggle through darkness and pain, they eventually find their way to a moment of illumination and healing.
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This One Summer
Created by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
Groundwood Books, 2014
ISBN 978-1-55498-152-6
IL: Ages 13 and up  RL: Grades 5-6
Rose and Windy are summer friends whose families have stayed at Awago Beach for as long as they can remember. But this summer is different, and they soon find themselves tangled in teen love and family crisis. It’s a summer of secrets and heartache and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other. A stunning and authentic story of friendship, illuminated by subtly heart-breaking moments and pure summer joy.
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Written by Lisa Harrington
Dancing Cat Books, 2014
ISBN 978-1-77086-413-9
IL: Ages 12 and up  RL: Grades 7-12
When her mother dies, Lyssa flees her oppressive stepfather and heads to Halifax. After her plans go awry, she decides to reconnect with her stepbrother, Aidan. But when Lyssa discovers his discarded medication and Aidan’s behaviour becomes more and more erratic, she realizes he is not the person she remembers.
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Written by Meaghan McIsaac
Dancing Cat Books, 2013
ISBN 978-1-77086-308-8
IL: Ages 12 and up  RL: Grades 7-8
The Brothers of the Ikkuma Pit know no mothers. Abandoned at birth, they fend for themselves, each training a younger member to survive. When a Little Brother is ready to handle life on his own, it’s time for the Big Brother to leave the Pit. When Urgle’s little brother, Cubby, is taken, Urgle and three of the other brothers go in search of Cubby, learning about the outside world and the terrible truth of their own origins.
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Whatever Doesn’t Kill You
Written by Elizabeth Wennick
Orca Book Publishers, 2013
ISBN 978-1-4598-0083-0
IL: Ages 12 and up  RL: Grades 6-7
Jenna was six days old when her father was shot and killed in his store, and 15 years later she lives with her siblings. When Jenna discovers her father’s murderer has been released from jail, she becomes obsessed with meeting him face to face. Will her obsession ruin her relationships with her family and friends as she discovers the truth about her dad’s murder?
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Where I Belong
Written by Tara White
Tradewind Books, 2014
ISBN 978-1-896580-77-7
IL: Ages 12-14  RL: Grades 6-8
This moving novel of self-discovery and awareness takes place during the Oka crisis in the summer of 1990. Adopted as an infant, Carrie has always felt somehow out of place. Recurring dreams haunt her, warning that someone close to her will be badly hurt. When she finds out that her birth father is Mohawk, living in Kahnawake, Quebec, she makes the journey and finally achieves a sense of home and belonging.
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