I’m so proud to be one of the “captains” for the second annual I Read Canadian Day, which is coming up on February 17, 2021, all across the country (and maybe the world)! This year, our theme is #NowMoreThanEver.
If you are a teacher, librarian, parent, or simply a lover of children’s literature, then I encourage you to join us in celebrating!
What is I Read Canadian Day?
I’m leading the BC team along with fellow author Mahtab Narsimhan, and we are supported by a fantastic team of volunteer authors, illustrators, and kidlit lovers who have been working hard to spread awareness of the event.
IRCD is a national day of celebration of Canadian books for young people. This is a day dedicated to “reading Canadian” and will empower families, schools, libraries and organizations to host local activities and events within the week.
For example, we’ve asked libraries and bookstores to set up local “I Read Canadian” displays. Many schools have created challenges to get more readers involved, to see how many readers can read Canadian.
The purpose of this event is to raise awareness of Canadian books and celebrate the richness, diversity and breadth of Canadian literature.
The official celebration day is February 17th, 2021. We are also celebrating Canadian children’s bookstores on February 13th, 2021. Last year, stores hosted authors and illustrators in-store; this year that’s obviously not possible in most Canadian cities, so we have dozens of authors and illustrators creating videos to promote their local bookstores. Stay tuned to social media and get ready to see a wave of fantastic creators share their corner of Canada!
On February 17th, we challenge the nation to “Read Canadian” for fifteen minutes and to share their experience at their library, in their school, with their families and friends, or on social media. Young people are encouraged to read, or be read to, a Canadian book of their choice.
What we’re reading in my household
We are big readers in our house and have so many great Canadian children’s books to share. My social media feeds include posts almost every day of our son Hiro’s favorite Canadian children’s books. He doesn’t know they are Canadian, of course—he’s too young to think that way, but these are his favorite books that just so happen to be Canadian. You can see these posts on my twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts.
What I’m teaching
As a co-founder of The Creative Writing Children for Society (CWC), I lead many book discussions with the students in my classes. We’re reading Canadian for the entire month of February! Here are this year’s Canadian picks, which I’ve divided into YA and middle-grade, since I teach both age groups. If you’re looking for recommendation in these age groups, try these out!
The Candle and the Flame, by Nafiza Azad
Caster, by Elsie Chapman
Hungry Hearts, edited by Elsie Chapman and Caroline Tung Richmond
Are You Seeing Me, by Darren Groth
All We Left Behind, by Danielle R. Graham
Crimson, by Arthur Slade
This Dark Endeavor, by Kenneth Oppel
The Very, Very Far North, by Dan Bar-el
Music for Tigers, by Michelle Kadarusman
Embrace the Chicken, by Mahtab Narsimhan
Krista Kim-bap, by Angela Ahn
Sweep, by Jonathan Auxier
Bloom, by Kenneth Oppel
This is Your Brain on Stereotypes, by Tanya Lloyd Kyi
Finding Cooper, by Stacey Matson
The Secret of Zoone, by Lee Edward Födi
What I’m writing
You’ll notice that last book is by me—because I not only read and teach Canadian, I also write it. As a fantasy writer, I’m best known for creating books that take place in other worlds, but I don’t think setting is what makes a book Canadian. (Though, I feel the need to point out here that my latest book—it’s called SPELL SWEEPER and is coming out this fall—is the first one that I’ve actually set it in a real place. The main location is a magical school called Dragonsong Academy, situated in Canada. Another important location is the Whistler Train Wreck.)
Obviously, what really makes a book a Canadian is the author and, honestly, that comes with our unique and distinctive perspective. Yes, we are a country that is very diverse. We have multiple major political parties. We have vast and varied geography, from deserts to tundra. We have one of the biggest cities in North America, and we have some of the tiniest towns you’ll ever find. We have people from many different cultural backgrounds and experiences. But, at the same time, we are a small country, with under 40 million people, and I think that provides us with a common identity. In my own kidlit community, everyone seems to know everyone—if not personally, second-hand. And I think that’s Canada in a nutshell: we are a small close-knit community.
So, please come join and celebrate our community on February 17th!