11 Canadian children's books to read on Pink Shirt Day
Pink Shirt Day falls on Feb. 22 in 2023. Pink Shirt Day started in 2007 in Nova Scotia when two students noticed a classmate being bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school.
Check out these 11 children's books with themes of kindness, anti-bullying and empathy.
Little Wolf by Teoni Spathelfer, illustrated by Natassia Davies
The picture book Little Wolf tells the tale of a major life transition as a young Indigenous girl and her family move to the city. The girl is dealing with bullies at the new school but she learns to make sense of her new surroundings and, with the help of her mother, she makes connections with the human and natural world. Little Wolf is the first in a trilogy.
Little Wolf is for ages 4 to 8.
Teoni Spathelfer is a radio journalist and author who is a member of the Heiltsuk Nation from coastal B.C.
Natassia Davies is an artist and graphic designer from Victoria and is of Coast Salish ancestry.
Hold That Thought! by Bree Galbraith, illustrated by Lynn Scurfield
Hold That Thought! is a humorous picture book featuring Finn, a person with an exciting idea. Finn shares the idea with their friends and it grows and grows. But when a bully puts down the idea, it starts to shrink. But Finn still believes in their idea, and with the help of their friends, it starts to grow all over again. Hold That Thought! is about the power of ideas, creativity and community.
Hold That Thought! is for ages 4 to 8.
Bree Galbraith is a Vancouver children's book author whose picture books include Usha and the Stolen Sun, Milo and Georgie and Once Upon a Balloon.
Lynn Scurfield is an artist and illustrator from Ontario. She also illustrated the picture book All the Ways Home by Elsie Chapman.
The Doll by Nhung N. Tran-Davies, illustrated by Ravy Puth
The Doll is inspired by the true story of author Nhung Tran-Davies's arrival in Canada as a refugee from Vietnam. She was given a doll by strangers that came to represent the kindness and compassion in her new home. Decades later she grows up to pay the gift forward to another family in need.
Tran-Davies is an Alberta author, physician and advocate for social justice through education. Her family came to Canada as refugees from Vietnam in 1978.
Ravy Puth is a Montreal-based visual artist and illustrator.
Restart by Gordon Korman
Restart is a YA novel about Chase Ambrose, a teen who forgets everything, including his name, after falling off a roof and losing consciousness. While Chase recovers, he finds out that he was the neighbourhood bully and not a nice person. Chase is determined to change and befriend those he had once hurt.
Restart is for ages 8 to 12.
Gordon Korman famously wrote his first book This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall — a Grade 7 English assignment — at the age of 12. The middle-grade novel was the start of an iconic Canadian series about best friends Bruno and Boots and their hilarious antics at boarding school. Korman, now 54, has written over 80 books for young readers, including Ungifted, Restart and I Want to Go Home. Korman's books have been translated into 32 languages and sold over 30 million copies worldwide.
Korman grew up in Toronto and now lives in Long Island, New York.
Lala's Words by Gracey Zhang
Lala's Words is a picture book about the power of kindness. Featuring muted colours and illustrations, it's a look at a girl named Lala who is determined to make a garden grow. She waters them everyday but it is her loving words and care that truly make her plants thrive.
Lala's Words is for ages 4 to 8.
Gracey Zhang is a Canadian artist, illustrator and author from B.C. who is now based in New York. Lala's Words is her first picture book.
When We Are Kind by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Nicole Neidhardt
When We Are Kind is a picture book that walks children through simple acts of everyday kindness. It was created with the aim to encourage children to explore their feelings and to use kindness each and every day.
When We Are Kind is for ages 3 to 5.
Monique Gray Smith is a mixed-heritage — Cree, Lakota and Scottish — author who often writes and speaks about the resilience of Indigenous communities in Canada. She is also the author of the children's books Speaking Our Truth and You Hold Me Up and the novels Tilly and Tilly and the Crazy Eights.
Nicole Neidhardt is a Diné visual artist and illustrator. When We Are Kind is her first children's book.
The Great Bear by David A. Robertson
The Great Bear is the second book in David A. Robertson's Narnia-inspired Indigenous middle-grade fantasy series. Eli and Morgan journey once more to Misewa, travelling back in time. Each are struggling with personal issues and bullies at school, but Eli and Morgan turn to the place where they know they can learn the most, and make the journey to Misewa to visit their animal friends. But they are faced with personal, physical and emotional challenges that will force them to find the resolve to save themselves and everything they care for.
The Great Bear is for ages 10 and up.
Robertson is an author and graphic novelist based in Winnipeg. The multi-talented writer of Swampy Cree heritage has published 25 books across a variety of genres, including the graphic novels Will I See? and Sugar Falls, a Governor General's Literary Award-winning picture book called When We Were Alone, illustrated by Julie Flett and the YA book Strangers and the memoir Black Water. The Barren Grounds is a finalist for the 2020 Governor General's Literary Prize for young people's literature — text.
Everybody! by Elise Gravel
Everybody! is a book for children that explores empathy, unity and thinking about others. Using quirky monster characters, Everybody! looks at the range of emotions we all have and why it is important to feel valued and loved.
Everybody! is for ages 3 to 8.
Elise Gravel is a Quebec author and illustrator. She is the author of several books for children, including The Bat, The Worst Book Ever, The Mushroom Fan Club, I Want a Monster! and What Is a Refugee?
The Only Way Out by Katie Kuperman
The Only Way Out is a YA novel about Kaitlyn and Rebecca, two teens who are both neighbours and the best of friends. But after Rebecca is bullied at school and Kaitlyn is a bystander to a horrible event, the teens are affected both mentally and emotionally. Inspired by the real-life story of Amanda Todd, The Only Way Out is a story of anti-bullying and about standing up and speaking up in the face of injustice.
The Only Way Out is for ages 13 and up.
Katie Kuperman is a Toronto copywriter and author. The Only Way Out is her first book.
The Girl Who Was Convinced Beyond All Reason That She Could Fly by Sybil Lamb
In this YA illustrated novel, a homeless girl named Eggs has the power to fly. In a gritty unnamed city, Eggs flits across city rooftops, encounters a wild cast of characters and must navigate her own survival when a neighbourhood bully targets her for revenge. The Girl Who Was Convinced Beyond All Reason That She Could Fly is an otherworldly look at the power of hope and resilience.
The Girl Who Was Convinced Beyond All Reason That She Could Fly is for ages 14 and up.
Sybil Lamb is a Canadian trans author and artist. She is the author of the 2014 YA novel I've Got a Time Bomb.
Like Home by Louisa Onomé
The YA novel Like Home tells the story of a teen named Chinelo, Nelo for short. Her best friend is Kate and life is good. Nelo's family owns a convenience store in a popular neighbourhood known as Ginger East. But when the store is vandalized and police get involved, Nelo is emotionally affected and her relationship with her friends and family change forever. Like Home has themes of anti-bullying, kindness and coming together as a community.
Like Home is for ages 14 and up.
Louisa Onomé is a Nigerian Canadian living in Toronto. Like Home is her debut novel.