Books

11 must-read books for Canadian kids this summer

Check out these cool reads for children for a hot summer season.

Looking for something cool for the kids to read this hot summer? Check out these must-read books that will help make your family's summer a page-turner.

While you're at it, be sure to take a look at our recent list of 10 Canadian YA books you should read this summer

Picture books:

From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea by Kai Cheng Thom, illustrated by Kai Yun Ching & Wai-Yant Li

From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea is an ode to self-expression by Kai Cheng Thom (top) with illustrators Wai-Yant Li (middle illustration) and Kai Yun Ching. (Arsenal Pulp Press/Jackson Ezra/Contributor illustrations by Wai-Yant Li)

Kai Cheng Thom's picture book — with illustrations by Kai Yun Ching & Wai-Yant Li — is about a young child named Miu Lan who can't decide whether to be a boy or a girl, a bird or a fish, a flower or a shooting star. It's a beautifully imagined picture book about gender, identity and the acceptance of the differences between us all. 

Picture the Sky by Barbara Reid

Barbara Reid is an award-winning author and illustrator of children's books. (Ian Chrysler)

The whimsical picture book Picture the Sky is the latest from Barbara Reid. Famous for her vibrant Plasticine artwork, Reid is considered one of Canada's best storytellers, and many of her books — like Picture a Tree and Sing a Song of Mother Goose — are deemed modern classics. 

When We Were Alone by David A. Robertson, illustrated by Julie Flett

David Alexander Robertson is the author of several books, including the children's book When We Were Alone. (David A. Robertson/Portage & Main Press)

Winner of the 2017 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — illustrated books, this story of a grandmother describing her experience in residential schools will bring you all the feels. It's so beautiful and so gentle, and therein lies its transformative power. Julie Flett continues to dazzle with her highly original illustrations. 

Fox and Raccoon by Lesley-Anne Green

Lesley-Anne Green is the creator of picture book Fox and Raccoon. (Tundra Books)

Best friends Fox and Raccoon are next door neighbours in Juniper Hollow. They play together every single day, but one day Fox is busy. Raccoon helps Fox with all her errands and finds a surprise at the very end. Lesley-Anne Green is a textile artist in Toronto and created the creatures in her book with wool, thread and fabric. 

The Honeybee by Kirsten Hall, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

Children's author Kristen Hall collaborated with illustrator Isabelle Arsenault to tell the tale of a wandering bee. (Cindy Boyce/Simon & Schuster/Kirsten Hall)

Kirsten Hall and Isabelle Arsenault pay tribute to the humble honey bee in this lyrical and vibrant picture book. In a field of wild flowers, a sweet, buzzing honey bee flits from flower to flower in search of pollen and nectar. 

Takannaaluk by Herve Paniaq, illustrated by Germaine Arnaktauyok

An illustrated look at the Inuit mythology of Takannaaluk, the mother of sea mammals. (Inhabit Media)

Coming out in August 2018, Takannaaluk is a bilingual book, titled after the Inuktitut name for the mother of sea mammals — one of the most important characters in Inuit mythology. This unique picture book by elder Herve Paniaq and artist Germaine Arnaktauyok tells the story of how Takannaaluk married a sea bird posing as a man, and came to be both feared and respected. 

Middle-grade books: 

Speaking Our Truth by Monique Gray Smith

Monique Gray Smith is the author of Speaking Our Truth. (Centric Photography)

In Speaking Our Truth, Monique Gray Smith educates young readers about Canada's residential school system and its survivors in this important work of nonfiction for middle-grade readers. 

The Skeleton Tree by Iain Lawrence

Iain Lawrence's The Skeleton Tree tells the story of two improbable friends and their quest to survive the Alaskan wilderness. (TD Canadian Children's Literature Award)

The Skeleton Tree is a survival tale that tracks two boys who need to quickly learn how to survive in the wilderness when their boat sinks off the coast of Alaska. Iain Lawrence is a bestselling author of books for children of all ages. The B.C.-based writer won the 2007 Governor General's Literary Award for children's literature for the novel Gemini Summer and his latest book, The Skeleton Tree, was a finalist for the 2017 TD Canadian Children's Literature Award.

A World Below by Wesley King

Wesley King is an author of middle-grade novels. (Simon & Schuster/Twitter)

The latest by Wesley King — author of Edgar Award winner OCDaniel  — is the middle-grade novel A World Below. It's a survival tale about a field trip of Grade 8 students who find themselves trapped in an underground cave after an earthquake. 

The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis

Christopher Paul Curtis wrote The Journey of Little Charlie, a middle-school adventure novel. (Arden Wray, Scholastic Canada)

Charlie's father is dead and so are his crops. To make ends meet, Charlie takes a job hunting down three thieves. Tracking the thieves to Detroit, Charlie discovers they are actually escaped slaves. The Journey of Little Charlie asks tough questions of the reader and its protagonist, who struggles with doing what's right in a time of great evil.

Escape by Linwood Barclay

The adventures of 12-year-old Jeff and his genetically engineered spy dog Chipper continue in Linwood Barclay's sequel to Chase. (Puffin Canada, Bill Taylor)

In Linwood Barlcay's sequel to his earlier page-turner, Chase, the adventures of 12-year-old Jeff and his genetically engineered spy dog Chipper continue. And with the pair on the run from a sinister organization known only as "The Institute,"  their mysterious helper Harry seems to be acting suspiciously. 

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