Olympic Reading: Beyond Anne of Green Gables

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Inspired by last night’s Olympic Opening Ceremony, I pulled out the syllabus from the Canadian children’s literature course I took as a student at the Simmons Center for the Study of Children’s Literature.  Before taking the course, my knowledge of Canadian children’s authors was not extensive.  Of course, I had read L.M. Montgomery’s series about Anne Shirley’s adventures on Prince Edward Island and a few books by Tim Wynne-Jones, but that was about it.  Reading the syllabus brought back memories of wonderful books by Canadians.  Here are a few titles that really stood out for me.

Mary of Mile 18 by Ann Blades (an evocative picture book about life in a remote part of northern British Columbia; the term “Mile 18” is a designation of location – the place where Mary lives with her family.)

The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier (a classic book about the importance of hockey and the divide between French and English speaking Canadians.  I’ve used this book with kids between the ages of 7 and 14.  It’s a terrific book to initiate a conversation about identity.)

A Prairie Boy’s Winter by William Kurelek  (a portrait of daily in life in Depression-era Canada)

The Stella books by Marie Gay (the delightful adventures of Stella and her little brother, Sam, have a wide following in the U.S. as well.)

The Sky is Falling by Kit Pearson (a novel about two Canadian children during WWII)

Angel Square by Brian Doyle (I kept this novel out to read again because I remember really enjoying it.  Doyle is a three-time winner of the Canadian Library Association’s Book of the Year for Children Award.  This book, part detective story and part comment on racial hatred, takes place in 1940s Ontario.)


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