Izzy’s favorite place to be is in Mama’s arms—skin to skin, safe and warm. One night, cuddled up on Mama’s lap, Izzy notices something she’s never noticed before: her skin is the color of chocolate, but Mama’s skin is the color of sand.
When Izzy realizes she’s different from Mama in other ways, too, she feels sad and confused. She wants to be beautiful like Mama! But Mama addresses Izzy’s disappointment with a gentle, loving refrain: You’re part of me, and I’m part of you. I’m beautiful like me, and you’re beautiful like you. Finding lessons from nature and repeating her affirming message, Mama encourages Izzy to see her own unique beauty.
Young Adult: How To Be The Best Third Wheel by Loridee De Villa
It’s the last year of highschool, and everything has changed . . .
After a summer spent in the Philippines with her family, Lara Dela Cruz is eager to start her senior year and, most importantly, reunite with her three besties, Carol, Jasmine, and Kiera. Of course summer is the season of change, and Lara knew she’d have to get caught up on the major updates, hot gossip, and other shenanigans she may have missed. But what she did not expect was to show up on the first day of school to all three of her friends now in relationships.
The mushy public displays of affection and lunches spent gushing about their new “boyfries” has Lara quickly realizing her last year of high school is nothing like she imagined.
Since she’s been back, Lara’s long time frenemy, James, has become impossibly annoying. Sure, they are now both third wheels, but why is he asking her to tutor him in classes? And why, after they start spending more time together, does she begin to notice how cute he looks when he smiles . . . uh oh.
Fighting for the attention of her best friends, catching some pretty new and confusing feelings for James, and wading through the pressures post-high-school plans all have Lara reeling. And to make matters worse, Lara’s beautiful and untrustworthy cousin conveniently appears and wiggles her way right between her and James’ budding relationship. Feeling like a third wheel in more ways than one, Lara must learn to accept that change is inevitable, love is complicated, and being the odd one out is sometimes where inner power is found.
Picture Book: Granny’s Kitchen by Sadé Smith and Ken Daley
Shelly-Ann lives with her Granny on the beautiful island of Jamaica. When Shelly-Ann becomes hungry, she asks her Granny for something to eat. Granny tells her “Gyal, you betta can cook!” and teaches Shelly-Ann how to get in touch with her Jamaican roots through the process of cooking.
As Shelly-Ann tries each recipe, everything goes wrong. But when Granny is too tired to cook one morning, Shelly-Ann will have to find the courage to try one more time and prepare the perfect Jamaican breakfast.
Young Adult: Delicious Monsters by Liselle Sambury
Daisy sees dead people—something impossible to forget in bustling, ghost-packed Toronto. She usually manages to deal with her unwanted ability, but she’s completely unprepared to be dumped by her boyfriend. So when her mother inherits a secluded mansion in northern Ontario where she spent her childhood summers, Daisy jumps at the chance to escape. But the house is nothing like Daisy expects, and she begins to realize that her experience with the supernatural might be no match for her mother’s secrets, nor what lurks within these walls…
A decade later, Brittney is desperate to get out from under the thumb of her abusive mother, a bestselling author who claims her stay at “Miracle Mansion” allowed her to see the error of her ways. But Brittney knows that’s nothing but a sham. She decides the new season of her popular Haunted web series will uncover what happened to a young Black girl in the mansion ten years prior and finally expose her mother’s lies. But as she gets more wrapped up in the investigation, she’ll have to decide: if she can only bring one story to light, which one matters most—Daisy’s or her own?
As Brittney investigates the mansion in the present, Daisy’s story runs parallel in the past, both timelines propelling the girls to face the most dangerous monsters of all: those that hide in plain sight.
It’s a special day for Amik the beaver and her little sister, Nishiime. Their cousins are coming to visit! Amik is excited, but Nishiime feels nervous about meeting new people, and when the cousins finally arrive, Nishiime disappears.
Lively, immersive illustrations show Amik and her cousins as they search the woods for Nishiime. Each creature they encounter, introduced to readers using their Anishinaabe names, reveals how beavers help the forest community. A fish thanks them for digging canals in the mud that they swim through. A deer thanks the beavers for cutting down trees so they can reach the tastiest leaves. None of the creatures have seen Nishiime, but keen-eyed kids will have spotted her hiding in the background throughout the story.
Eventually, Nishiime returns to the group, having overcome her shyness by learning an important lesson: despite being from different places, the beavers are all united by the ways they support the forest ecosystem. With the perfect blend of fact and fun, this salute to the industrious beaver is also an energetic celebration of Indigenous perspectives, languages, and diversity.
Pick a book. Grow a Reader!
This series is part of Scholastic’s early chapter book line, Branches, aimed at newly independent readers. With easy-to-read text, high-interest content, fast-paced plots, and illustrations on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and stamina. Branches books help readers grow!
Priya is excited to plan her aunty’s birthday party. She will donate the money she makes to help the cutest endangered animal on the planet, the quokka! But the party is this Saturday! With so many items on her to-do list, can she get it all done in time? Priya sends out handmade invitations, makes DIY decorations, and sets an orange-only snacks menu — including pumpkin samosas! Will Priya’s very first party be a success?
One summer day, Lauren and her little brother, James, go on a trip to the land with their Moshom (grandfather). After they’ve arrived, the children decide to fish for dinner while Moshom naps. They are in their canoe in the middle of the lake when the water around them begins to swirl and crash. They are thrown overboard and when Lauren surfaces she sees her brother being pulled away by the Memekwesewak — creatures who live in and around water and like to interfere with humans. Lauren must follow the Memekwesewak through a portal and along a watery path to find and bring back James. But when she finally comes upon her brother, she too feels the lure of the Memekwesewak’s song. Something even stronger must pull them back home.
Young Adult: Baby Drag Queen by C.A. Tanaka
Ichiro is a transgender youth in his final year of high school. He has a job as a dishwasher to earn money to help support his single mother. But it’s not enough. Ichiro dreams of buying a camper van for the two of them so they can escape and live off the grid and not have to worry about money anymore. A budding drag queen, he takes a second job performing drag at a local club and learns of an upcoming contest where the prize money would be enough to pay for a camper van. But nobody knows he does drag. So when some of his friends find out what he’s really doing in the evenings, Ichiro is worried about what they will think of him. Will they still accept him?
Picture Book: The Invitation by Stacey May Fowles and Marie Lafrance
One beautiful fall day, Fern opens her mailbox and finds an envelope. After much worrying about what it could possibly contain, her friend Fawn encourages her to open it. Inside, she finds an invitation to a super-special surprise at the museum — but Fern doesn’t like surprises!
Luckily, Fawn offers to come with her to the party. What could possibly happen, he asks. Along the way, Fern voices her worries: What if they can’t make it in time? What if they don’t know anyone there?
Fawn playfully follows his friend’s way of thinking, while gently suggesting twists to her story and a fun new cast of characters — the chipmunk who could show them a shortcut, the grumpy bear who could clear their path, the brave dentist who might treat the bear’s toothache — until at last they arrive, and Fern is able to enjoy the wonderful surprise happening around her.
Middle Grade: Alone: The Journeys of Three Young Refugees by Paul Tom, Mélanie Baillairgé and Arielle Aaronson
Each year, more than 400 minors arrive alone in Canada requesting refugee status. They arrive without their parents, accompanied by no adult at all.
Alone relates the journey of three of them: Afshin, Alain and Patricia. Their story opens a window onto the many heartbreaks, difficult sacrifices and countless hardships that punctuate their obstacle-filled path. But Alone most especially tells of the courage and resilience that these young people demonstrated before being able to finally obtain a life where threats and danger are no longer a part of their everyday existence.
Picture Book: When You Can Swim by Jack Wong
In expansive vignettes, we meet sandpipers, peaceful lakes, the feeling of a small waterfall on one’s shoulders. Artist and author Jack Wong has delivered an empowering, poetic modern classic that fills readers with the wonder and confidence needed to overcome their fears of the water. When You Can Swim invites children into the warmth and wonder of the natural world and its watery splendors. At the same time, children will experience the joyousness that nature’s lessons teach us through its beauty.
Chapter Book: Salma Makes a Home by Danny Ramadan and Anna Bron
After a year, eleven months, and six days apart, Salma’s dad is finally joining her family in their new home. Salma is so happy to see her baba–but she’s also worried. What if he misses Syria so much that he leaves them again? She throws herself into showing him around the city and helping him learn English, but as Baba shares memories of Damascus Salma starts to realize how much she misses Syria, too. Can Salma make space in her heart for two homes? And can Baba?
Chapter Book: Two Green Birds by Geraldo Valério
Francisco’s grandmother has a surprise for him. In her backyard is a guava tree, and in the tree hangs a cage containing two magnificent green birds. They are parakeets, his grandmother says. Francisco has never seen birds so green, so beautiful. He imagines them sitting on his hand, or murmuring in his ear as he scratches the backs of their heads.
Every day Francisco walks to his grandmother’s house to help her care for the birds. But no matter what food they are offered, the birds will not eat or drink or speak. Perhaps their cage is too small, thinks Francisco. But moving the birds into a bigger cage only seems to frighten them.
Then, on the sixth day, Francisco arrives at Grandma’s and hears a big commotion in the backyard. The guava tree is full of parakeets, just like the ones in the cage. All the parakeets are screaming. Inside the cage, the two birds hop and flap and seem to be calling to the parakeets outside. And that’s when Francisco knows what the green parakeets need to be happy — and what he and his grandmother have to do.
When a thunderstorm grounds all flights following a huge Muslim convention, four unlikely kids are thrown together. Feek is stuck babysitting his younger sister, but he’d rather be writing a poem that’s good enough for his dad, a famous poet and rapper. Hanna is intent on finding a lost cat in the airport—and also on avoiding a conversation with her dad about him possibly remarrying. Sami is struggling with his anxiety and worried that he’ll miss the karate tournament that he’s trained so hard for. And Nora has to deal with the pressure of being the daughter of a prominent congresswoman, when all she really wants to do is make fun NokNok videos. These kids don’t seem to have much in common—yet.
Told in alternating points of view, Grounded tells the story of one unexpected night that will change these kids forever.
It can be discombobulating for all involved when a grandma moves in permanently. Fortunately, our narrator has gone through it and has LOTS of tips on how to make your grandma feel at home.
In a story filled with humor, confusion and moments of sweetness, Jennifer Mook-Sang introduces us to a delightful family dynamic and a grandma who doesn’t really need the help settling in but appreciates it anyway. As Grandma goes about her days, her well-meaning granddaughter sees her caring for her plants, and makes sure that Grandma is getting the proper care too.
Young Adult: Something More by Jackie Khalilieh
A contemporary teen romance novel featuring a Palestinian-Canadian girl trying to hide her autism diagnosis while navigating her first year of high school, for fans of Jenny Han and Samira Ahmed.
Fifteen-year-old Jessie, a quirky loner obsessed with the nineties, is diagnosed as autistic just weeks before starting high school. Determined to make a fresh start and keep her diagnosis a secret, Jessie creates a list of goals that range from acquiring two distinct eyebrows to getting a magical first kiss and landing a spot in the school play. Within the halls of Holy Trinity High, she finds a world where things are no longer black and white and quickly learns that living in color is much more fun. But Jessie gets more than she bargained for when two very different boys steal her heart, forcing her to go off-script.
Picture Book: The Hockey Skates by Karl Subban and Maggie Zeng
Little PK Subban loves watching hockey on TV with his father, and he can’t wait to finally go out and skate—just like his hockey heroes! With his mother’s help, PK orders a pair of black, single-blade, size 7 skates. Now he just has to wait for them to come in the mail.
So he waits.
Every new delivery brings hilarity and dismay as PK receives skates in the wrong size, wrong colour, wrong style—even a box that is completely empty! All the while, winter approaches and poor PK is very eager to get out on the rink. Even as he wonders if he will everget to skate, his love of hockey pulls him to the sport in funny, imaginative ways.
Inspired by Karl Subban’s son, NHL star PK Subban, The Hockey Skates is a story about maintaining perseverance and optimism through a series of comical misfortunes—all of which are brought to life by Maggie Zeng’s charming illustrations.
Young Adult: The Space between Here & Now by Sarah Suk
Seventeen-year-old Aimee Roh has Sensory Time Warp Syndrome, a rare condition that causes her to time travel to a moment in her life when she smells something linked to that memory. Her dad is convinced she’ll simply grow out of it if she tries hard enough, but Aimee’s fear of vanishing at random has kept her from living a normal life.
When Aimee disappears for nine hours into a memory of her estranged mom—a moment Aimee has never remembered before—she becomes distraught. Not only was this her longest disappearance yet, but the memory doesn’t match up with the story of how her mom left—at least, not the version she’s always heard from her dad.
Desperate for answers, Aimee travels to Korea, where she unravels the mystery of her memories, the truth about her mother, and the reason she keeps returning to certain moments in her life. Along the way, she realizes she’ll need to reconcile her past in order to save her present.
Picture Book: Asha and the Toymaker by Sakshi Mangal
Asha’s papa makes and sells wooden toys to pay for her to go to school. But Papa struggles to find buyers. And this makes him worry. He worries Asha’s life will also be a struggle unless she focuses on her schoolwork, which he never had the chance to do. Can Asha’s art help Papa? Will he let her try?
Author and illustrator Sakshi Mangal drew inspiration from her childhood in India for this sweet picture book. It celebrates the life-changing power of art in the real world, and offers children an opportunity to explore the concept of color and the influence of the visual arts in their everyday lives. Asha’s touching generosity and resourcefulness also show how even a very young child can make a difference and provide a wonderful character education lesson on initiative. Mangal’s colorful art depicts the Indian city of Jodhpur, known as the Blue City for its many buildings painted a distinctive shade of blue.
How do we face hate?
We use the word hate all the time—“I hate vegetables” or “I hated that movie!”—but what about the hate that actually hurts someone? There are words, symbols, ideas, beliefs, and actions that cause pain—to us, our friends, family, neighbours, and school mates.
What if you’ve caused that kind of pain yourself? Or what if you, or someone you know, has been the victim of hate so scary it made you want to cry?
Real kids from real classrooms share their stories here to help us to see the bias, prejudice, violence, discrimination, and exclusion around us—what hate looks like to them. Why? So we can stand against hate and never be the cause of it. And to show us how to cope and get support if we have been hurt.
By sharing our stories, we all become stronger. Our schools, neighbourhoods, and communities become safer and more kind, and hate doesn’t win.
Priya loves being with family and friends to watch fireworks and celebrate Diwali. But this year Priya and her parents are living in the United States, and no one seems to know about the holiday. Priya misses the traditions in India. But as she strings lights outside and creates rangoli art, Priya introduces the festival of lights to her neighbors. And even though the celebration is different this year, it’s still Diwali.
A heartwarming story of celebrating in a new place and sharing the Hindu festival of lights with those unfamiliar with the holiday.
Young Adult: When It All Syncs Up by Maya Ameyaw
Ballet is Aisha’s life. But when discrimination at her elite academy pushes her to her breaking point, she decides to pivot. At her new public arts school, Aisha scores more dance opportunities than she’s ever had before. And it doesn’t hurt that she gets to take classes with her bestie . . . and with Ollie, an adorably shy musician who keeps throwing off her usually impeccable balance.
Yet even as Aisha navigates friendships, family conflict, and first love, questions about her dance career open up new and old wounds. Aisha must find strength in herself and place her trust in others to make her next move.
Picture Book: Mira and Baku by Sara Truuvert and Michelle Theodore
It’s a week until Mira’s birthday, and she’s getting worried. Where is Papa? He has never missed her birthday before. When Mira’s friend Baku, a creature from Japanese folklore, offers to help, they journey over farmlands and forests, mountains and river mouths, gathering clues to Papa’s whereabouts—clues that echo Mira’s memories and overheard conversations in the camp where she lives with Mama.
Lushly illustrated by up-and-coming illustrator Michelle Theodore, this tender, moving picture book by debut author Sara Truuvert explores the profound impacts of family separation and the different forms comfort can take for a child processing loss.
Further reading on Japanese Canadian and Japanese American internment and a note from the author add to readers’ understanding of this underrepresented period of history, making it an instant classic. For fans of Baseball Saved Us, Mira and Baku is an emotional exploration of the power of imagination and hope in difficult times.
Akim Aliu — also known as “Dreamer” — is a Ukrainian-Nigerian-Canadian professional hockey player whose career took him all around the world and who experienced systemic racism at every turn. Dreamer tells Akim’s incredible story, from being the only Black child in his Ukrainian community, to his family struggling to make ends meet while living in Toronto, to confronting the racist violence he often experienced both on and off the ice. This is a gut-wrenching and riveting graphic novel memoir that reminds us to never stop dreaming, and is sure to inspire young readers everywhere.