Stars of CBC Kids to celebrate 6 Canadian picture books for CBC Kids Reads

CBC Kids Reads will air during the CBC Kids weekday morning block on CBC TV and CBC Gem, March 27-30.

CBC Kids Reads will air during the CBC Kids weekday morning block on CBC TV and CBC Gem, March 27-30

A unicorn with his hands in the air celebrating, in front of an open book.
CBC Kids hosts Tony, Janaye, Gary the Unicorn, Mr. Orlando, Cottonball and Makeup Monster will share their favourite Canadian picture books on CBC Kids Reads, March 27-30. (CBC)

As CBC's great Canadian book debate, Canada Reads, returns for its 22nd edition, a new generation of book lovers are encouraged to join the literary celebration with CBC Kids Reads, also running March 27-30.

All week long, young audiences are invited to join CBC Kids hosts Tony and Janaye, as well as Gary the Unicorn, Mr. Orlando, Cottonball and Makeup Monster, as they share their six favourite Canadian picture books and celebrate the love of reading. 

The six picture books selected for CBC Kids Reads highlight inclusion, self love and kindness. Unlike the original iteration of Canada Reads, there will be no winner  — all of the selected titles are recognized as equally powerful and rewarding for young readers.

CBC Kids Reads will air during the CBC Kids weekday morning block on CBC TV and CBC Gem from 7 a.m to 11 a.m. local time. The videos will also be available on CBC Kids' social media platforms including CBC Kids YouTube

The CBC Kids Reads contenders are:

Tony champions Thunder and the Noise Storms

A man holds up a children's picture book, smiling.
Tony champions Thunder and the Noise Storms by Jeffrey Ansloos and Shezza Ansloos, illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley (CBC)

In  Thunder and the Noise Storms, Thunder is a boy who does not like loud noises. He walks around feeling very frustrated with all the loud sounds at his school. But when his Mosom teaches him a new way to listen, he learns to appreciate the sounds all around him.

Tony likes puns, magic and trying new things. He is great at listening to his friends and helping them feel better, just like Mosom in Thunder and the Noise Storms. Tony picked this book as his CBC Kids Reads choice because he loves finding new ways to experience the world around him. "My new way of learning to listen feels just like magic!" he said. 

My new way of learning to listen feels just like magic!"- Tony

Jeffrey Ansloos is a Cree educator and psychologist and the Canada Research Chair in Critical Studies in Indigenous Health and Social Action on Suicide. He is the author of The Medicine of Peace.

Shezza Ansloos is a Cree writer, educator, artist and speaker. She is the author of two children's books, I Loved Her and The Fire Walker. Ansloos is also a singer-songwriter and visual artist.

Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley is an Ojibwe Woodland artist from Barrie, Ont., and a member of Wasauksing, First Nation. He is currently an artist-in-residence at Skwachay's Lodge in Vancouver, practicing his acrylic painting and illustration techniques.

WATCH | Jeffrey Ansloos and Shezza Ansloos react to their book being selected for CBC Kids Reads:

Gary champions I Can Too!

A unicorn puppet holds up a children's picture book, smiling.
Gary champions I Can Too! by Karen Autio, illustrated by Laura Watson (CBC)

I Can Too! is a story about two friends, Kayla and Piper, who both love to have fun and play, each in their own way. Kayla uses her hands to move her trike forward, while Piper pedals her tricycle with her feet. From riding their bikes to gliding on ice, these friends love exploring their world together and making new friends along the way.

Gary the Unicorn loves to do fun, awesome, amazing, things with his friends. That is why he picked I Can Too! a book full of fun adventures between two friends who even though they're different, still have bunches of fun! He's so excited to share his book pick and wants you to know: "I had fun reading this book. And you can too!"

I had fun reading this book. And you can too!- Gary the Unicorn

Karen Autio was born in Thunder Bay, Ont., and started writing stories at the age of nine. When she's not writing, freelance editing or talking to students about the research and inspiration behind her books, Autio loves to canoe, photograph nature, read and travel. She lives in Kelowna, B.C.

Laura Watson creates whimsical illustrations for children's books, educational materials, magazines and various retail applications. She lives in the leafy Riverdale neighbourhood of Toronto with her husband, 11-year-old daughter and three-year-old rescue dog. She enjoys the outdoors, runs often and spends as much time as possible at the beach hunting for sea glass.

WATCH | Karen Autio and Laura Watson react to their book being selected for CBC Kids Reads:

Cottonball champions What's My Superpower? 

A pink cat puppet holds up a children's picture book, smiling.
Cottonball champions What's My Superpower? by Aviaq Johnston, illustrated by Tim Mack (CBC)

In What's My Superpower?, Nalvana is a young girl who is able to tell all of her friends what their superpowers are. Some friends are able to swing so high they look like they're flying, while others run faster than a Ski-Doo! But Nalvana still has one question of her own: "What's My Superpower?" 

Cottonball the cat is the most musical member of CBC Kids. When she's making music with her friends, she feels the most powerful — some may say it's her superpower! She chose the book What's My Superpower? because Cottonball loves stories about good friends finding out what makes them special. An official cat quote about this book: "What a super superpower!"

What a super superpower!- Cottonball

Aviaq Johnston writes books for children, teenagers and grown ups. Her books include Those Who Run in the Sky, which won the Indigenous Voices Award and was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature ⁠— text, and the sequel, Those Who Dwell Below. Johnston also wrote the short stories Tarnikuluk and The Haunted Blizzard, featured in Taaqtumi: An Anthology of Arctic Horror Stories. She grew up in Igloolik and now lives in Iqaluit with her dog, Sunny.

Tim Mack cannot fly, run super fast, or swim like a fish, so instead he draws those things. Tim is a Canadian-born illustrator living in Vancouver. He enjoys playing with colours and shapes and never misses an opportunity to swim in the ocean, though he still wishes he could swim as well as a fish.

WATCH | Tim Mack reacts to his book being selected for CBC Kids Reads:

Mr. Orlando champions My Name is Saajin Singh

A moose puppet holds up a children's picture book, smiling.
Mr. Orlando champions My Name is Saajin Singh by Kuljinder Kaur Brar, illustrated by Samrath Kaur. (CBC)

My Name is Saajin Singh is about a boy named Saajin. Saajin loves everything about his name, but when his school teacher pronounces it wrong, Saajin feels confused and sad. With his parents' help, Saajin realizes how special his name is when it's pronounced correctly, and talks to his teacher and classmates to make things right.

Mr. Orlando keeps a very professional set of interests including playing the bagpipes, collecting pens and of course reading! Mr. O loves the book My Name is Saajin Singh because there is nothing more professional than pronouncing our friends' names correctly! Mr. O hopes you like his CBC Kids Reads pick and that you remember "your name is perfect and professional because it makes you you!"

Your name is perfect and professional because it makes you you!- Mr. Orlando

Kuljinder Kaur Brar is an elementary teacher, in Abbotsford, B.C., and this is her first book. She has a son named Saajin, who inspired the story.

Samrath Kaur is an illustrator and background painter living in Boston, Mass. As a queer, Desi American, he connected strongly with the My Name is Saajin Singh's celebration of individual and cultural identity, and he hopes others can experience that connection too.

WATCH | Kuljinder Kaur Brar reacts to her book being selected for CBC Kids Reads:

Makeup Monster champions Pink is for Everybody

A pink puppet holding up a children's picture book.
Makeup Monster champions Pink is for Everybody by Ella Russell, illustrated by Udayana Lugo. (CBC)

In Pink is for Everybody, a group of friends don't know how to brighten up their rainy day, until they find a pink treasure chest to play with. Everybody finds a pink-tastic item that fits their fancy — from painters and palace-dwellers to aliens, dancers and dragons! 

Makeup Monster knows how to think pink. As the pinkest friend in CBC Kids, it was only right that they picked Pink is for Everybody as their CBC Kids Reads book pick! Makeup Monster loves to help their friends express themselves and be creative, something the children in Pink is for Everybody love to do as well! Makeup Monster always knows how to turn drab into fab, just by adding a little colour. Makeup Monster has only one suggestion for this book: "MORE PINK!"

MORE PINK!- Makeup Monster

Ella Russell always dreamed of writing books. They grew up in a house that had a box full of costumes for rainy-day play, and that box allowed them to become anybody they wanted — from a swashbuckling pirate to a proper palace-dweller. Russell is now an author who still lets their imagination run wild in their writing. They live in Toronto, with two cheeky but lovable furballs named Saffron and Juniper.

Udayana Lugo has always loved drawing and painting. She studied product design and worked for many years in that field, and became an illustrator full time after her chapter in the design world came to a close. If Lugo wasn't a children's book illustrator, she would probably be a baker (although waking up before dawn might be a deal-breaker!). She was born in Russia, grew up in Mexico City, and now lives in Richmond, B.C., with her husband and two kids.

WATCH | Ella Russell and Udayana Lugo react to their book being selected for CBC Kids Reads:

Janaye champions Beautiful You, Beautiful Me

A woman holds up a children's picture book, smiling.
Janaye champions Beautiful You, Beautiful Me by Tasha Spillett-Sumner, illustrated by Salini Perera. (CBC)

Beautiful You, Beautiful Me is about a young girl named Izzy. Izzy loves to do everything with her mama, but she notices that she and her mama have different skin, which makes Izzy feel confused. With the help of her mama, Izzy learns that families can be made up of all kinds of different people, and what matters is that they love each other for who they are.

Janaye is a kindness machine and a dancing queen, who makes every room brighter with her smile and positivity. Janaye loves Beautiful You, Beautiful Me because it tells an important message about beauty — YOUR beauty! Janaye loves that this book shows that "the best way to be beautiful is to be you!"

The best way to be beautiful is to be you!- Janaye

Tasha Spillett-Sumner is a celebrated educator and poet, and the author of the picture book, I Sang You Down from the Stars and the graphic novel Surviving the Citywhich won the $2,000 Indigenous Voices Award for works in an alternative format in 2019. Spillett-Sumner lives in Treaty 1 territory, Man., with her husband and daughter.

Salini Perera has been making art for as long as she can remember — and making art for picture books is a lifelong dream come true. She was born in Sri Lanka and now lives in Toronto with her husband and their three cats: Victoria, Albert and Princess Alice.

WATCH | Tasha Spillett-Sumner reacts to her book being selected for CBC Kids Reads:

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