Wanda Tayloris an award winning journalist, filmmaker, professor, and author of both fiction and non-fiction books. She writes across children's, middle grade, YA, and adult markets. Her middle grade nonfiction book, Birchtown and the Black Loyalists is listed as one of the top Black History Month Books for kids, and her recently released middle grade novel, The Grover School Pledge, was selected as the Top Book for Children's Literature by Kobo Books.
Presentation #1 – The Pledge
Book:The Grover School Pledge (HarperCollins)
Target Age: Middle Grade (ages 8-12)
This book, released in June 2023, focuses on a group of diverse friends who come together to right a wrong in their school. In the process they celebrate kindness, the things that make them unique, and the joy of building community. The students get their teachers to sign a pledge of allyship and support for all students, no matter who they are, where they were born, or what they believe. This has sparked excitement in many schools, where classrooms have discussed the book and made their own pledges.
For this presentation, I do a few readings from the book and talk about what it means to be a friend and an ally. Discussion comes after each of the three readings, where I pose questions to the participants about what the characters did in the chapter that was just read, and what they can do in their schools to show kindness, celebrate diversity, and build community.
At the end, the students receive a bookmark with the words “I pledge to…” written on it. The participants will be asked to think about what the characters did in the novel, and to think about what they could pledge to do. They also receive a notepad with “The Pledge” written in the corner. They are encouraged to make their own pledge, whether that’s to be a friend, support someone, or simply to remember to smile each day. (bookmarks and notepads courtesy of HarperCollins)
Presentation #2: Learning Canada’s History
Book:Birchtown and the Black Loyalists (Nimbus Publishing)
Target Age: Middle Grade (ages 8-12)
For this presentation, kids will be taken on a journey that retraces the path of the very first major migration of Blacks to Canada. They will learn about the clothes they wore, the huts they built, and how they started communities even though the land was barren and they were unaccustomed to the harsh winter season.
There will be a reading from my middle grade non-fiction book, Birchtown and the Black Loyalists. Participants will complete an activity based on the question: If you had to leave your home to travel to a new country, draw the things that you would bring with you? That will launch a discussion about what the Black Loyalists took—or couldn’t take—with them when they boarded ships from New York headed to freedom and new lands in Shelburne, Nova Scotia.
At the end of the presentation, all participants will receive a colourful bookmark (courtesy of Nimbus Publishing) with the book cover on it, and a paragraph that briefly highlights the Black Loyalists’ story.
Middle Grade Non-Fiction
Brothers in the Sky (Nimbus Publishing, forthcoming March 2024)
Birchtown and the Black Loyalists (Nimbus Publishing, 2014)
Middle Grade Fiction
The Foodie Poets (HarperCollins, forthcoming June 2024)
The Grover School Pledge (HarperCollins, June 2023)
We Are Not The Zoo (Friesen Press, 2021)
Contributor/Photographer, R is for Reparations (Fernwood Press, 2019)
No One’s Baby (James Lorimer & Company Publishing, 2020)
Ride or Die (James Lorimer & Company Publishing, 2017)
It’s Our Time: A History of Preston Township (Nimbus Publishing, 2021)
The Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children: The Hurt, the Hope, and the Healing (Nimbus Publishing, 2015)