Books for Kids
A Family is a Family is a Family by Sara O’Leary
Why we recommend: A wonderful diversity of family structures and a great starting point discussing what makes a family. Also great for having children see their own family structure represented with respect.
And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell & Justin Richardson
Why we recommend: A true story of love, family, and commitment told with adorable pictures that are sure to keep students engaged.
Be You! by Peter H. Reynolds
Why we recommend: Simple affirmations that will have kids thinking about what makes them who they are.
Gustavo, The Shy Ghost by Flavia Z. Drago
Why we recommend: Themes of friendship, fear, bravery, and individuality are explored with vibrant pencil crayon images of Gustavo and all of his monster friends.
Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys by by Bob Raczka and Peter H. Reynolds
Why we recommend: Despite the title, this is a book for kids of all ages. Raczka captures the essence of childhood in his haikus and it’s a great starting place for having students capture aspects of their own lives through poetry.
I am Enough by Grace Byers
Why we recommend: An ode to being who we are and being enough as we are. Layers of poetic meaning for a range of readers in the classroom.
Not a Box by Antoinette Portis
Why we recommend: Get students thinking about how one thing can be another with this creative look at all thing (not!) boxes!
Skin Like Mine by Latishia M. Perry
Why we recommend: Inclusivity explored with images of skin tones and affirmative statements. See also Hair Like Mine in the same series.
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
Why we recommend: Vibrant and uplifting images compliment a story focused on staying true to who you are regardless of how others receive you.
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
Why we recommend: Unique in story but universal in theme, this is a wonderful book to read at the beginning of the year to foster curiosity and respect among classmates.
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
Why we recommend: A great starting place for discussing feelings of frustration, anger, and disappointment and how best to navigate when things don’t go our way.
The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
Why we recommend: A simple feel-good story that is perfect for wintertime and snow-themed classroom activities.
The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sís
Why we recommend: A text that will have students thinking and feeling deeply about the types of injustices faced by children. Teachers should be prepared to address difficult questions.
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Books for Teens
After The Fire by Will Hill
Why we recommend: A great blend of mystery, drama, and action that will have the reader hooked and wanting to know more right from the start.
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds
Why we recommend: Timely, important, and beautifully written like all of Reynolds’ books. A great conversation starter for teens of all ages.
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
Why we recommend: Prose that grabs the reader from page one and keeps them engaged the whole way through. A great springboard to discussions around family – what makes one, what breaks one, and what cures one.
Darius The Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
Why we recommend: Persian culture + realistic teen issues + great conversation starters around mental health, gender, and identity.
Freaky Green Eyes by Joyce Carol Oates
Why we recommend: A text rich with tension and suspense with themes of courage, family secrets, and self-determination.
How Long ’til Black Future Month? by N. K. Jemisin
Why we recommend: A collection of fantastical and science fiction stories that serve as commentary on contemporary society while honoring and centering Black excellence.
Lightning Lou by Lori Weber
Why we recommend: Explore themes of resilience, passions, and navigating familial expectations. Great window into the history of Quebec and Canada, as well.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Why we recommend: Reynolds’ storytelling in verse, sharp emotional vignettes, and bold questions make for a book that stays with the reader long after its conclusion.
Millie and the Great Drought: A Dust Bowl Survival Story by Natasha Deen
Why we recommend: Historical fiction will have readers learn about the U.S. Dust Bowl of 1935 as well as the hardships of the Great Depression. Part of the Girls Survive series.
Over the Woodward Wall by A. Deborah Baker
Why we recommend: Fantastical adventures, well-rounded characters, and a friendship readers will love.
Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson
Why we recommend: Beautifully written, complex characters and relationships and a timely read for teens and adults alike.
Scythe by Neal Shusterman (Arc of a Scythe #1)
Why we recommend: A perfect blend of action and character where questions of mortality, greed, and ambition are spotlighted.
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
Why we recommend: A dystopian novel that calls into question notions of beauty and femininity. Great world and character building and a real page-turner (especially near the end).
The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
Why we recommend: A coming-of-age novel told in verse, the reader will pause often to appreciate the author’s craft in this story about accepting – and loving – who you are.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Why we recommend: A powerful book that confronts the reader with ugly truths about the reality of anti-Black racism while at the same time embracing the reader with humour, love, sneaker obsession, and Harry Potter references.
The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James
Why we recommend: A YA romance unlike any other where the love, suspense, and mystery leave the reader wanting more.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig*
Why we recommend: An interesting plot that explores philosophical questions around identity, purpose, and what makes a life well lived.
*Trigger warning about suicide
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
Why we recommend: A devastating and detailed exploration of the horrors of U.S. reformatory schools in the 1960s. A good pairing for texts about residential schools in Canada.
The Truly Devious series by Maureen Johnson
Why we recommend: Great murder mystery with enough plot diversity to keep struggling readers engaged.
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Why we recommend: A beautifully mysterious thriller with a heart-breaking conclusion that explores themes of identity, privilege, and the psychological toll that affluence can have on a family.
When Everything Feels like The Movies by Raziel Reid
Why we recommend: A book for older readers who are looking for an off-the-beaten path narrative that isn’t afraid to address topics of sexuality and intimacy.
Wrong Side of the Court by HN Khan
Finding Me by Viola Davis
Why we recommend: A good memoir for senior students as part of a literature circle.
Flowers Slipped Into Shattered Glass by Sarah Kay
How I Resist: Activism and Hope for a New Generation by Maureen Johnson (editor)
Why we recommend: A great starting point for discussions around social justice and the power of both the individual and the collective.
The Betrayal of Anne Frank by Rosemary Sullivan
Why we recommend: This book can serve as an excellent supplement to The Diary of Anne Frank.
Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in Turkey by Ozge Samanci
Why we recommend: Set in Turkey in the 1980’s and 90’s, the graphic memoir features Ozge Samanci as she experience her country’s struggle between tradition and Western secularism.
Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown
Why we recommend: Stark images couple with emotional true stories to tell the heart-wrenching story of what happened during Katrina and who suffered most.
Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell
Why we recommend: Rowell’s writing is endearing, funny, and true to the honesty and immediacy of youth. Colourful artwork makes for a perfect fall/Halloween read.
Putin’s Russia: The Rise of a Dictator by Darryl Cunningham
Sapiens: A Graphic History, Volume 1 by David Vandermeulen, Daniel Casanave & Yuval Noah Harari
Why we recommend: Detailed colourful images, easy-to-understand text, and moments of humour and wit make this a sure-fire bet for a teen who wants to better understand who are we and how we came to be.
The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sís
Why we recommend: Explore a coming of age tale in Eastern Europe and how art and passion can support you through life’s challenges.
“If a Bird Can be a Ghost” by Allison Mills
Books for Educators
Act Your Age by Nancy Lesko
Fewer Things, Better: The Courage to Focus on What Matters Most by Angela Watson
Why we recommend: This book will have you asking, how can we stop glorifying overwork and find a way to keep our standards high and our lives balanced?
Reading, Writing, and Rising Up by Linda Christensen
Teaching about Gender Diversity: Teacher-Tested Lesson Plans for K–12 Classrooms by Susan W. Woolley & Lee Airton (editors)
The Motivation Breakthrough by Rick Lavoie
Why we recommend? A text discussing the freedoms and fresh starts which come with a new school year and how to provide students with diverse needs and challenges an opportunity to write their own story.
Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Munroe
Websites for Professional Development
Why we recommend: This course helps you to find a way to give your best to your students, while respecting your time and finding a work/ life balance.
Websites/Apps for the Classroom
Why we recommend: Explore issues and news stories from all sides of the political spectrum. A great resources for writing opinion pieces and articles, and for teaching about media bias.
Why we recommend: A great option for creating posters, flyers, infographics, timelines, and more.
Why we recommend: Add questions to online videos that can be viewed in the classroom as a group or by individual students at home.
Why we recommend: A cost-effective and interesting alternative to poster boards, notebooks, and review sheets. An easy and fun way for students to demonstrate their knowledge.
Why we recommend: Get quick feedback and responses from students (especially good for an online setting)
Why we recommend: Otter allows you to record audio and transform existing audio files into easy-to-understand transcripts.
Why we recommend: an amazing tool to recommend books to you based on your interests and preferences
Why we recommend: Easy-to-use website creation websites for both students and educators.
Why we recommend: Video editing website that offers both free and paid options. Lots of tutorials, easy-to-use, and intuitive for students.
Why we recommend: A great little site for when you need to pick a student’s name/group at random.
Teacher Blogs and Podcasts
Why we recommend: Ripp is an expert in literacy and technology integration and dedicates her research and practice to developing engaged and empowered students and communities. She uses her own classroom as a laboratory, as well as learns from the many educators she works with across the world.
Why we recommend: Practical strategies from technology to literacy to enhance and extend content instruction and improve student motivation and achievement.
Why we recommend: Insights, ideas, and resources for secondary readers and writers workshop. The website’s authors believe that all students deserve respect and compassion, and need to be challenged to become better thinkers, readers, writers, and citizens.
Why we recommend: Each Sunday, a new episode is released to speak life, encouragement, and truth into the minds and hearts of educators.
Why we recommend: A cooperative blog that unites a community of teachers through the practice of writing while inspiring and guiding the teaching of a writing workshop approach
Why we recommend: This workshop from the 1980s by Rick Lavoie continues to be relevant today in helping teachers understand the challenges that their students with learning disabilities experience in the classroom.
Why we recommend: A regularly updated curated selection of YA books from The Guardian. A great way to stay on top of what’s new and trending in YA.
Why we recommend: Use this video from NPR’s Invisibilia podcast to remind your students, and yourself, of their possibility and potential.