Theme Guide: Family Literacy Day

Family Literacy Day is a national awareness initiative created by ABC Life Literacy Canada and held annually to raise awareness of the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family. Celebrate this January 27 with our list of Canadian books that celebrate and encourage reading as a family activity.

Picture Books

Groundwood Logos Spine

A Family Is a Family Is a Family
Written by Sara O’Leary
Illustrated by Qin Leng
Groundwood Books, 2016
ISBN 978-1-55498-794-8
IL: Ages 4-7 RL: Grades 2-3

What makes a family? When a teacher asks her class to think about what makes their families special, the answers are all different in many ways — but the same in the one way that matters most of all. A warm and whimsical look at the great diversity of families and the bonds of love that matter most.

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My Two Grandmothers
Written by Diane Carmel Léger
Illustrated by Jean-Luc Trudel
Nimbus Publishing, 2016
ISBN 978-1-77108-400-0
IL: Ages 3-7 RL: Grades 1-3

Acadian Mémére and Scottish Nannie seem to have nothing in common, but their love for their grandchildren is a bridge that brings them together. This picture book is a whimsically illustrated, heartwarming tale of the special relationship between grandparents and grandchildren, and a celebration of family of all shapes and sizes. This title is also available in French as Mémére Soleil, Nannie Lune.

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Ready, Set … Baby!
Written by Elizabeth Rusch
Illustrated by Qin Leng
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017
ISBN 978-0-544-47272-3
IL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grade 3

Anna and Oliver, big siblings extraordinaire, are here to tell you about what to expect when a new baby is on the way — and what life will be like when your baby sister or brother arrives! This story offers a funny, loving and reassuring peek into the life of a big brother and sister — with real information, helpful tips and kid-friendly humour!

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We Sang You Home
Written by Richard Van Camp
Illustrated by Julie Flett
Orca Book Publishers, 2016
ISBN 978-1-4598-1178-2
IL: Ages 0-3 RL: Grades 1-2

We sang you from a wish/we sang you from a prayer. This sweet and lyrical board book captures the wonder new parents feel as they welcome baby into the world. Julie Flett’s warm, evocative illustrations complement Richard Van Camp’s spare but emotionally effective text celebrating that special bond between parent and child. A perfect love song to share with little ones.

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Junior & Intermediate


Balthazar Fabuloso in the Lair of the Humbugs
Written by I.J. Brindle
Illustrated by Sholto Walker
Holiday House, 2016
ISBN 978-0-8234-3577-7
IL: Ages 9-11 RL: Grades 4-5

Eleven-year-old Balthazar Fabuloso’s eccentric family of magicians actually have magic powers — all except Balthazar. So when the entire family, except Balthazar, disappears, the only Fabuloso without real magic must find them. Balthazar teams up with a long-lost lunatic uncle and the loathsome Pagan Fistula against a force so evil that even powerful magicians cower before it. What hope does a ragtag crew of misfits have?

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Book Uncle and Me
Written by Uma Krishnaswami
Illustrations by Julianna Swaney
Groundwood Books, 2016
ISBN 978-1-55498-808-2
IL: Ages 8-11 RL: Grades 4-5

Every day, nine-year-old Yasmin borrows a book from Book Uncle’s curbside free lending library. But when the mayor tries to shut down the rickety bookstand, Yasmin must take her nose out of her book and do something. But what can she do? With the help of friends, family and neighbours, Yasmin launches a campaign to make sure the voices of the community are heard.

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Downside Up
Written by Richard Scrimger
Tundra Books, 2016
ISBN 978-1-77049-845-7
IL: Ages 10-14 RL: Grades 5-6

Fred is grief stricken at the loss of his beloved dog, Casey. When Fred loses Casey’s worn tennis ball down a sewer grate, Fred goes down the sewer where he finds himself tumbling into a parallel universe. In this downside-up world Fred discovers his own family except… better. Best of all, Casey is alive! It’s a place where nothing gets lost. But can everything lost be found again?

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Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts
Written by Esta Spalding
Illustrated by Sydney Smith
Tundra Books, 2016
ISBN 978-1-77049-876-1
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Grades 4-6

Meet the Fitzgerald-Trouts, a band of four loosely related children living together on a tropical island. They take care of themselves. They sleep in their car, bathe in the ocean, eat fish they catch and fruit they pick, and can drive anywhere they need to go — to school, the laundromat or the drive-in. The Fitzgerald-Trouts can do anything… maybe even find a real home.

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Young Adult Fiction


Blood Brothers
Written by Colleen Nelson
Dundurn, 2017
ISBN 978-1-4597-3746-4
IL: Ages 12-15 RL: Grades 6-7

Jakub and Lincoln are best friends and graffiti artists. When Jakub gets a scholarship to an elite private school, it’s a chance for a better life, but he must leave Lincoln, who soon gets lured into the violent world of a gang, the Red Bloodz. Then Jakub is targeted and Lincoln must decide — save his friend or embrace his life as a gangster.

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Once, In a Town Called Moth
Written by Trilby Kent
Tundra Books, 2016
ISBN 978-1-101-91811-1
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grades 7-8

Ana, 14, and her father have fled their Mennonite community in Bolivia and come to Toronto. Ana only knows that her father is trying to find her mother who disappeared years ago. Torn between worlds, and troubled by the things she and her father left behind, Ana is determined to find the one person who can tell her what they are running from — her mother.

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Subject to Change
Written by Karen Nesbitt
Orca Book Publishers, 2017
ISBN 978-1-4598-1146-1
IL: Ages 13 and up RL: Grade 7

Declan’s life in small-town Quebec is a series of let-downs — from his parents’ divorce, his delinquent brother and his own lacklustre performance at school to the real kicker — his father’s five-year absence. Then he meets Leah, whose grandmother is a Holocaust survivor, and he begins to see how rage has permeated his life. Slowly Declan begins to rebuild a relationship with his father.

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The Way Back Home
Written by Allan Stratton
Scholastic Canada, 2017
ISBN 978-1-4431-4838-2
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grade 7

Zoe Bird is going nowhere fast. She’s angry and lonely, and her only true friend is her granny, whose Alzheimer’s is worsening. When her parents put Granny in a home, Zoe decides now is the time to break free. She smuggles Granny out and they hit the road, taking an unforgettable trip to Toronto to find her long-lost uncle.

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