Canada 150: Wonderful Picture Books that are Perfect for Reading Aloud
It is my turn to share ten of my favourite picture books written by Canadian authors. Of the chosen titles, you will recognize a few notable classics. These have stood the test of time, and I am young enough to remember my parents, teachers, and librarians reading them to me - how fitting! Other books on this list are more recent. I have discovered these as a librarian and I enjoy sharing them with children through story times at my library branch (a shameless plug for Main Street’s Saturday Storytime).
On the whole, the books in this set – some filled with humour, some with great messages, and some with both – represent some of the best picture books that Canada has to offer:
Smelly Socks by Robert Munsch
Tina works hard to acquire some of the most awesome socks ever and it is going to be even harder to get them off her. Any kid with a favourite piece of clothing can relate to this hilarious book. This is one of several classic Munsch and Martchenko picture books worth checking out.
Spork by Kyo Maclear
Surely there must be someone who has use for a half-spoon-half-fork combination known as a Spork, right? This is a funny book that artfully touches on some important themes such as fitting in and embracing difference. It also had me googling “when to use a spork.” Next time I eat stew, I’ll be ready.
Mr. Zinger’s Hat by Cary Fagan
A young boy playing ball in the courtyard, Leo, runs into Mr. Zinger, a man with a hat who makes up stories. For this story, Mr. Zinger provides most of the plot while Leo provides the details. This is a great book to kick off a storytelling theme where children can be encouraged to tell their own story.
The Wonderful Pigs of Jillian Jiggs by Phoebe Gilman
“Jillian, Jillian, Jillian Jiggs, It looks like your room has been lived in by pigs!” rhymes the opening page of this classic book, foreshadowing a silly tale full of creativity. This one is fun to read aloud to children as the rhymes effortlessly flow throughout the book.
Night Cars by Teddy Jam
The sparse, lyrical writing in this book combines with double-page spread illustrations to wondrous effect. This book traces a sleepless baby’s perspective on the nighttime world, making it a great choice for bedtime reading.
Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt
Scaredy Squirrel doesn’t like leaving the comfort of his nut tree, until one day something causes him to abandon his daily routine. Amidst the panic, Scaredy Squirrel discovers something about himself and comes to realize that sometimes, the unknown can be exhilarating.
Chicken, Pig, Cow by Ruth Ohi
Ruth Ohi is the only author on this list that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting (she’ll even draw you a picture if you ask nicely). The Chicken, Pig, Cow series now spans six books. As the first in the series, this book explores both making friends and the importance of avoiding making pre-judgments about others.
Chester by Chester Melanie Watt
This unconventional picture book reads more like a battle between author and main character. Chester, with his notorious red marker, goes back and forth with Melanie Watt in a constant struggle to revise the story to suit Chester's ego. Who will get the last laugh?
The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton
Children will love this picture book full of silly moments (farts and spitballs, for example). It tells an entertaining story without containing too much text. That said, I always love books that throw in a few fancy words once in a while (flabbergasted and flummoxed appear here), providing a great opportunity to teach children more vocabulary.
Franklin in the Dark by Paulette Bourgeois
As one of my favourites from childhood, this book combines exceptional illustrations with a great story that presents a common childhood fear: being afraid of the dark. Franklin quickly learns that everyone is afraid of something, and that this is normal. Franklin has become an international sensation, with this book kicking off his fame. Check out all the Franklin books.
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