Canada 150: Ten Feel Good Picture Books for Children Age Six and Under
It is my honour to be able to share ten of the greatest Canadian picture books ever published, in my humble opinion. Some are classics that have been loved for decades, while others are hot off the presses and proving to be instant classics! These picture books are intended for the six and under crowd, but could definitely be filed under the “all ages” category.
Canada ABC by Paul Covello
From Arctic to Zamboni with Maple in between, Covello shares 26 beautiful spreads that each represent a different aspect of Canadian life in this alphabet book. Children will recognize iconic buildings such as the Parliament Building on the Ottawa spread and have fun identifying all of the provincial flags on the F for Flags page.
What a wonderful way to celebrate Canada this year with your littlest ones, who may even learn some letters along the way!
Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard
Bird is grumpy. Too grumpy to eat, play or even fly. “Looks like I’m walking today!” Along the way, Bird is joined by all of his friends and soon he realizes he’s forgotten all about being grumpy and is happy to be spending time with his friends.
We can all relate to Bird’s early morning mood. Sometimes you just need a little help from your friends to get over the grumps, and maybe some really strong black coffee in my case!
The Imaginary Garden by Andrew Larsen, illustrated by Irene Luxbacher
Young Theo loved her Poppa’s old house and she especially loved his garden filled with different flowers and plants. When Poppa moves to an apartment, there is no room for a garden and the balcony is too windy for flowers. Poppa doesn’t want to disappoint Theo, so he buys a large canvas that they can paint together and create their very own imaginary garden!
This is a wonderful inter-generational story that emphasizes the special bond that a child can have with a grandparent.
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
A bear has lost his hat and he would like it back. A simple request that we can all relate to. The bear retraces his steps and asks all of the animals that were along his path if they have seen his hat. None of them know where his hat is and it all becomes hopeless for the bear. Clever children point out that the small and quite defensive rabbit was in fact wearing a red, pointy hat. When the bear realizes he HAS seen his hat, he rushes back to rabbit to retrieve it.
The bear gets his hat back and rabbit? We’ll let the readers decide what his fate was!
Melvis and Elvis by Dennis Lee, illustrated by Jeremy Tankard
After a long hiatus from the children’s book world, Dennis Lee, esteemed author of Alligator Pie, brought us Melvis and Elvis in 2015. A collection of delightful new poems remind us just how much we missed Lee’s clever rhymes and local content. “Snow, snow, Everywhere you go, The snowmen dance in Ontario.”
Paired with Jeremy Tankard’s bold and colourful illustrations, this book is sure to win you over.
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko
A clever princess covered in dirt and soot, a dragon, a prince named Ronald and a paper bag. Ingredients for a perfect modern day fairy tale told by the one and only Robert Munsch. Elizabeth will not be left to wallow in the destruction of her castle and the kidnapping of her true love Ronald, so she takes matters into her own hands. Using her wits, she tricks the dragon and rescues Ronald.
Sometimes however, fairy tales don’t have happy endings. Especially if the prince turns out to be a bit of a “bum”!
Picture a Tree by Barbara Reid
What better way to celebrate Canada’s four seasons than by looking at the ever-changing life of trees. Barbara Reid’s incomparable plasticine illustrations take readers through each season by looking at all the different ways we see and enjoy the trees around us.
It is so important to cultivate a respect and love for nature in our little ones and Reid hits this message home by simply asking the reader to picture a tree.
Red is Best by Kathy Stinson, illustrated by Robin Baird Lewis
“My mom doesn’t understand about red.” Kelly’s words have resonated with readers for 35 years now. Kelly’s mother tries to reason with her when it comes to her stockings, jacket, pjs and drinking cup, that it doesn’t matter what colour they are but mom just doesn’t understand that red is best!
Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson, illustrated by Sydney Smith
A young girl walks through the city with her father collecting weeds growing through the cracks of concrete along the way. She takes these "sidewalk flowers" and quietly places them with those who she thinks need them the most: on the chest of a fallen bird on the sidewalk, near the feet of a man sleeping on a park bench, and in the stroller of a sleeping toddler.
The completely wordless narrative relies on the gorgeous illustrations to show the kindness and loving nature of a young girl. The simple act of collecting wild flowers and spreading them around to those who may need their spirit lifted will delight any reader, young and old.
Sweetest Kulu by Celina Kalluk, illustrated by Alexandria Neona
When sweet baby Kulu is born, all of the animals of the Arctic come to wish the newborn baby well and offer advice to always love and respect the land and all of its inhabitants.
Acclaimed Inuit throat singer Celina Kalluk takes traditional Inuit values and creates this beautiful bedtime poem that can be loved by children everywhere.
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