9 Diverse Books for Young Readers | Holiday Gift Guide

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Speaking Our Truth  

Speaking Our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation by Monique Gray Smith (Orca Book Publishers) teaches young readers about the lives of Survivors of the Residential School system and the lack of understanding of the historical and current impact of those schools. Guided by acclaimed Indigenous author Monique Gray Smith, readers will learn to listen to allies who are putting the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into action. Healing and repairing that relationship requires education, awareness and increased understanding of the legacy and the impacts still being felt by Survivors and their families. | Nonfiction Ages 9–13

A Day With Yayah by Nicola I. Campbell, illustrated by Julie Flett (Tradewind Books) depicts a First Nations family going out to forage for edibles in the woods of the Nicola Valley, British Columbia. Yayah and her family are Nle?képmx—a part of the Interior Salish peoples, referred to often as People of the Creeks. Yayah (Grandmother) passes down her knowledge of plant life with Nle?képmxcin words and terms interspersed. A glossary includes definitions and a pronunciation guide for the Indigenous words. | Picture Book

The Boy & the Bindi by Vivek Shraya, illustrated by Rajni Perera (Arsenal Pulp Press) features a five-year-old boy becomes fascinated with his mother’s bindi, the red dot commonly worn by South Asian women to indicate the point at which creation begins, and wishes to have one of his own. Rather than chastise her son, she agrees to it, and teaches him about its cultural significance, allowing the boy to discover the magic of the bindi, which in turn gives him permission to be more fully himself. Written by Vivek Shraya, author of the acclaimed God Loves Hair, and illustrated with hand paintings The Boy & the Bindi is a joyful celebration of gender and cultural difference. | Picture Book


On My Skis by Kari-Lynn Winters, illustrated by Christina Leist (Tradewind Books) is the follow-up to the successful On My Walk, featuring a young child learning to ski in the mountains overlooking Vancouver. Enchanting illustrations by Christina Leist illuminate this story by one of Canada’s up-and-coming children’s authors, Kari-Lynn Winters. | Picture Book

Shu-Li and the Magic Pear Tree by Paul Yee, illustrated by Shaoli Wang (Tradewind Books) is the prequel to the popular Shu-Li and Tamara and Shu-Li and Diego. Governor General Award-winning author Paul Yee recounts further adventures of Shu-Li just as she moves into her new home on Commercial Drive in Vancouver. She has trouble adjusting to her new neighbourhood but finds surprising help from a “magic” pear tree in the back garden. | Picture Book

An African Alphabet by Eric Walters, illustrated by Sue Todd (Orca Book Publishers) is a vibrant ABC book that introduces babies and toddlers to the unique variety of animals found in Africa. From aardvark to zebra and all that’s in between, the stunning linocut-influenced artwork brings an uncommon selection of critters to life in this lively concept book. | Baby Board Book

Chinese New Year: A Celebration for Everyone by Jen Sookfong Lee (Orca Book Publishers) is a wide-ranging, informative book that describes the multi-faceted roots, history and evolution of Chinese New Year. Award-winning author and broadcaster Jen Sookfong Lee recalls her childhood in Vancouver, British Columbia, and weaves family stories into the history, traditions and evolution of Chinese New Year. Lavishly illustrated with colour photographs throughout. | Nonfiction Ages 9–12

From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea, by Kai Cheng Thom, illustrated by Kai Yun Ching and Wai-Yant Li (Arsenal Pulp Press) features a magical gender variant child who brings transformation and change to the world around them thanks to their mother’s enduring love. Miu Lan is not just any child, but one who can change into any shape they can imagine. The only problem is they can’t decide what to be: a boy or a girl? A bird or a fish? A flower or a shooting star? At school, though, they must endure inquisitive looks and difficult questions from the other children, and have trouble finding friends who will accept them for who they are. But one thing’s for sure: no matter who this child becomes, their mother will love them just the same. The themes will resonate with any child who feels excluded (or excludes others) and can also open up conversations about gender, identity, and the acceptance of the differences between us. | Picture Book

You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Danielle Daniel (Orca Book Publishers)
was written by award-winning author Monique Gray Smith to prompt a dialogue among young people, their care providers and educators about reconciliation and the importance of the connections children make with their friends, classmates and families. Beautifully illustrated by celebrated artist Danielle Daniel, encourages children to show love and support for each other and to consider each other’s well-being in their everyday actions. | Picture Book

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