As a mom to two children with vastly different approaches to reading despite having similar opportunities, I now recognize that reading is not one size fits all.
We all recognize the importance of reading to and with children as they move toward becoming independent readers.
Finding stories that will engage and encourage children toward a love of reading can be a daunting task. How do you choose a picture book? Do you judge a book by its cover? Get recommendations from friends? Let your child choose. The answer to all of these is yes.
Heading to the library is a great way to make some commitment-free book choices, and if you find some stories that your child loves, you can always purchase a copy at your local bookstore. The Telling Tales reading list is another great place to find something for everyone, from tots to teens.
“Positive representation in literature drastically improves a child’s knowledge of different people, other cultures and the real world they live in. For children who are historically under or negatively represented, it offers a sense of belonging and hopes for a better future filled with empathic and respectful human beings.” - Yolanda T. Marshall, featured Author at the 2023 Telling Tales Festival.
There are many Telling Tales authors to choose from–sharing stories that incorporate the authors’ lived experiences and culture.
This book tells the story of a community coming together to share food and fellowship. Jackson’s friends and their families bake assorted hot cross buns for his Easter party.
Liam’s foster parents use his most memorable Scottish ingredient, and Dimitri’s dad adds Greek mahlepi spice. Some have rainbow colours for all to see and a sweet Jamaican bun and cheese recipe! One by one, the children arrive with hot cross buns for everyone.
Amy Wu loves trying new things but sometimes gets caught up in wanting her efforts to turn out perfectly. Whether it’s making a delicious bao, crafting a dragon that expresses her culture, finding the words to welcome a new student, or learning to Chinese ribbon dance.
Amy finds a way to succeed with help from her family and friends. Charlene Chua beautifully illustrates these books.
These books feature stories about Malaika’s experiences after her mother and her moved to Canada. From Malaika’s Costume, a heartwarming story about family, community and the celebration of Carnival, to Malaika’s Carnival Queen, which sees her learning about her father–a migrant worker who came to Canada and passed away when she was just a baby.
In this bilingual book (Anishinaabemowin and English), an Anishinaabe child explores the cultural and ecological importance of the precious mnoomin seed and the circle of life mnoomin sustains.
This beautifully written and illustrated story reveals the significance of mnoomin as we follow the child and family through a harvest day.
Books are also a powerful tool that can help children safely communicate feelings and deal with emotions while learning essential skills.
“Through the enjoyment of books, a young child learns the mechanics of reading and writing. On a metacognitive level, where a child is thinking about their learning, exposure to books allows them to understand that reading and writing are effective forms of communication.
A young child can grasp concepts, which include everything from new words to number recognition. Through books, they develop a deeper understanding of themselves, others, and the world around them, deepening a child’s empathy and compassion.
And your child is most capable of learning when they feel safe and loved. We are all so busy! When we stop everything for those precious moments with a child and a story, we show them that not only is reading important, but they are important. You give your child a lifelong gift when you show them the possibilities of books and reading.”
- Lana Button, Author and Educator.
If you are looking for books that skillfully incorporate messages about emotions/social awareness in an age-appropriate and fun way to read, here are a few of my current favourites.
It is a beautiful story about overcoming shyness and building confidence. When other children pick up Percy’s new friend (a plush he names Miss Petticomb), Percy cautiously sets out to find her. On his journey to retrieve Miss Petticomb, Percy must decide whether to share his friend with his classmates or keep her all to himself.
Moving and switching schools can be scary. When Ophelia starts at a new school where everyone speaks French except her, she uses her imagination to make magic out of a frightening situation. With the magic of a sheet of white paper and a rainbow of pencils, she will find a way to embrace change and gain independence.
In this poignant story, a child spends time with a beloved grandmother during her final days and experiences love that will last a lifetime. Grandmother brings her bird feeder, creating a unique connection as they watch, draw, and talk about the birds.
When Grandmother goes to hospice, they get the bird feeder and continue to share these moments. When grandmother passes, the bird feeder returns home as a fond memory and a continuing connection to grandmother.
Linda Cvetanovic is a mom of two teens who still love reading. Her family are long-time fans of Telling Tales and Canadian children’s literature. She truly believes it takes a village and her best advice is never to use google to find out what is wrong with your child.
This September, you can meet your favourite children’s authors at the Telling Tales Festival at Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, Ontario. Until then, enjoy some time snuggling up and reading.
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