It’s I Read Canadian Day! This initiative began as a way to encourage Canadians to read books by Canadian authors. Folks–especially young people–are encouraged to spend at least 15 mins reading a book by a Canadian author which could be a picture book, chapter book, young adult novel, nonfiction, audiobook, a comic and so on! How you read isn’t important and we at FOLD Kids want to help you find great kid lit titles to add to your selves (or borrow from your library) for not just today but also the day after and the day after that.
Here are some books recently published or will be published in the next two weeks by marginalized Canadian authors. Keep the conversation going with us on social media, and use #IReadCanadian today to share what you’re reading and find out what others are reading.
The Name I Call Myself written by Hasan Namir and illustrated by Cathryn John
Meet Ari, a young person who doesn’t like to be called by their birth name Edward: “When I think of the name Edward, I imagine old kings who snore a lot. ” Throughout this beautiful and engaging picture book, we watch Ari grow up before our very eyes as they navigate the ins and outs of their gender identity; we see how, as a child, they prefer dolls and princess movies, and want to grow out their hair, though their father insists on cutting it short, “because thatâ??s what boys look like. ” At nine, they play hockey but wish they could try on their mother’s dresses; at fifteen, they shave their face, hoping to have smooth skin like the girls. At sixteen, they want to run away, especially from their father, who insists, “You’re a boy, so you have to act like one. ” Who will Ari become?
Moving from age six to adolescence, The Name I Call Myself touchingly depicts Edward’s tender, solitary gender journey to Ari: a new life distinguished and made meaningful by self-acceptance and unconditional love.
Ten Little Dumplings written by Larissa Fan and illustrated by Cindy Wume
In the city of Fengfu, there lives a very special family — special because they have ten sons who do everything together. Their parents call them their ten little dumplings, as both sons and dumplings are auspicious. But if you look closely, you’ll see that someone else is there, listening, studying, learning and discovering her own talent — a sister. As this little girl grows up in the shadow of her brothers, her determination and persistence help her to create her own path in the world . . . and becomes the wisdom she passes on to her own daughter, her own little dumpling.
Based on a short film made by the author, inspired by her father’s family in Taiwan, Ten Little Dumplings looks at some unhappy truths about the place of girls in our world in an accessible, inspiring and hopeful way.
A FOLD Kids Book-of-the-Month pick for January 2021
Dear Black Girls written by Shanice Nicole and illustrated by Kezna Dalz
Dear Black Girls is a letter to all Black girls. Every single day poet and educator Shanice Nicole is reminded of how special Black girls are and of how lucky she is to be one. Illustrations by Kezna Dalz support the book’s message that no two Black girls are the same but they are all special—that to be a Black girl is a true gift. In this celebratory poem, Kezna and Shanice remind young readers that despite differences, they all deserve to be loved just the way they are.
A FOLD Kids Book-of-the-Month pick for February 2021
Happy Dreams, Little Bunny by Leah Hong
Little Bunny can’t sleep! There’s so much to think and wonder about, big and small. But with a nudge from Mommy, Little Bunny discovers that sometimes our thoughts can be turned into happy dreams . . . where anything is possible.
Debut author and illustrator Leah Hong’s tender drawings and gentle dialogue between mother and child sing a modern lullaby for anyone who has trouble falling asleep—or whose imagination has soared at bedtime.
Stand Like A Cedar written by Nicola I. Campbell and illustrated by Carrielynn Victor (out February 23)
When you go for a walk in nature, who do you see? What do you hear?
Award-winning storyteller Nicola I. Campbell shows what it means “to stand like a cedar” on this beautiful journey of discovery through the wilderness. Learn the names of animals in the Nłe7kepmxcín or Halq’emeylem languages as well as the teachings they have for us. Experience a celebration of sustainability and connection to the land through lyrical storytelling and Carrielynn Victor’s breathtaking art in this children’s illustrated book.
Discover new sights and sounds with every read.
Early Reader/Middle Grade
Genie Meanie by Mahtab Narsimhan and illustrated by Michelle Simpson
When eight-year-old Kiara discovers that her recently deceased grandmother left her a genie, trapped in a bottle of garam-masala, she’s elated. She’ll be a modern-day Aladdin and have someone to do her bidding. And Kiara could really use a little magic. Third grade is just about to start and she’s spent the summer worried about being in class with Matt, a bully who seems to have nothing else to do but make Kiara and her best friend Bai’s lives miserable. Unfortunately, the genie has decided he’s on vacation after working for ten thousand years and is looking for someone to do his bidding. A battle of wills ensues, and Kiara realizes that you don’t really need magic to solve your problems.
The Fabulous Zed Watson! by Basil Sylvester and Kevin Sylvester
Zed Watson loves a few things: their name (which they chose themself!), their big rambunctious family, and—oh yeah—monsters. When Zed discovered the mystery surrounding an unpublished novel called The Monster’s Castle, they were completely hooked. Now Zed is a member of a small but dedicated legion devoted to finding the long-buried text.
When a breakthrough discovery leads Zed to the route that they are sure will take them to the treasure, they know it’s time for a road trip. And with the help of their shy, flora-loving neighbour, Gabe, and his sister, Sam, a geologist who is driving back to college in Arizona, Zed and company are soon off on a wild adventure following cryptic clues.
But it’s not all fun and games. Gabe doesn’t like Zed’s snacks, Sam is a bossy driver with total command of the ancient Impreza’s stereo, and Zed is often misgendered. It’s a good thing they also encounter kind strangers, potato-themed dance-offs and lots and lots of ice cream along the way. If Zed and Gabe can combine their strengths, survive Sam’s wrath and best the greedy historian who’s also hot on the book’s trail, they just might find the greatest treasure of all.
Co-authored by child-parent duo Basil Sylvester and Kevin Sylvester, this is a vibrant and enormous-hearted story about friendship, identity and belonging. It features illustrations by celebrated author and illustrator Kevin Sylvester, and an Own Voices perspective based on Basil’s experience.
Chinese New Year: A Celebration for Everyone by Jen Sookfong Lee
From its beginnings as a farming celebration marking the end of winter to its current role as a global party featuring good food, lots of gifts and public parades, Chinese New Year is a snapshot of Chinese culture. 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 color photographs throughout.
Peter Lee’s Notes from the Field written by Angela Ahn and illustrated by Julie Kwon (out March 2)
Eleven year-old Peter Lee has one goal in life: to become a paleontologist. Okay, maybe two: to get his genius kid-sister, L.B., to leave him alone. But his summer falls apart when his real-life dinosaur expedition turns out to be a bust, and he watches his dreams go up in a cloud of asthma-inducing dust.
Even worse, his grandmother, Hammy, is sick, and no one will talk to Peter or L.B. about it. Perhaps his days as a scientist aren’t quite behind him yet. Armed with notebooks and pens, Peter puts his observation and experimental skills to the test to see what he can do for Hammy. If only he can get his sister to be quiet for once — he needs time to sketch out a plan.
If I Tell You the Truth by Jasmin Kaur
In this stunning sophomore novel, acclaimed writer Jasmin Kaur explores trauma, fear, courage, community, and the healing power of love in its many forms.
Kiran flees her home in Punjab for a fresh start in Canada after a sexual assault leaves her pregnant. But overstaying her visa and living undocumented brings its own perils for both her and her daughter, Sahaara.
Sahaara would do anything to protect her mother. When she learns the truth about Kiran’s past, she feels compelled to seek justice—even if it means challenging a powerful and dangerous man.
Some Other Now by Sarah Everett (out February 21)
Before she kissed one of the Cohen boys, seventeen-year-old Jessi Rumfield knew what it was like to have a family—even if, technically, that family didn’t belong to her. She’d spent her childhood in the house next door, challenging Rowan Cohen to tennis matches while his older brother, Luke, studied in the background and Mel watched over the three like the mother Jessi always wished she had.
But then everything changed. It’s been almost a year since Jessi last visited the Cohen house. Rowan is gone. Mel is in remission and Luke hates Jessi for the role she played in breaking his family apart. Now Jessi spends her days at a dead-end summer job avoiding her real mother, who suddenly wants to play a role in Jessi’s life after being absent for so long. But when Luke comes home from college, it’s hard to ignore the past. And when he asks Jessi to pretend to be his girlfriend for the final months of Mel’s life, Jessi finds herself drawn back into the world of the Cohens. Everything’s changed, but Jessi can’t help wanting to be a Cohen, even if it means playing pretend for one final summer.
Like Home by Louisa Onomé (out February 23)
Chinelo—or Nelo, as her best friend, Kate, calls her—is all about her neighbourhood, Ginger East. She loves its chill vibe, its ride-or-die sense of community and the memories she has of growing up there. Ginger East isn’t what it used to be, though. After a deadly incident at the local arcade, most of Nelo’s friends, except for Kate, have moved away. But as long as the two girls have each other, Nelo’s good.
Then Kate’s parents’ corner store is vandalized, leaving Nelo shaken to her core. The police and the media are quick to point fingers, and soon more of the outside world descends upon Ginger East with promises to “fix the neighbourhood.” Suddenly, Nelo finds herself in the middle of a drama that is unfolding on a national scale.
Worse yet, Kate has begun acting strange. She’s pushing Nelo away at the exact time they need each other most. Nelo’s entire world is morphing into something she hates, and she must figure out how to get things back on track or risk losing everything—and everyone—she loves.
A FOLD Kids Book-of-the-Month pick for February 2021
A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth (out February 23)
Choose your player.
The “ironborn” half-fae outcast of her royal fae family.
A tempestuous Fury, exiled to earth from the Immortal Realm and hellbent on revenge.
A dutiful fae prince, determined to earn his place on the throne.
The prince’s brooding guardian, burdened with a terrible secret.
For centuries, the Eight Courts of Folk have lived among us, concealed by magic and bound by law to do no harm to humans. This arrangement has long kept peace in the Courts—until a series of gruesome and ritualistic murders rocks the city of Toronto and threatens to expose faeries to the human world.
Four queer teens, each who hold a key piece of the truth behind these murders, must form a tenuous alliance in their effort to track down the mysterious killer behind these crimes. If they fail, they risk the destruction of the faerie and human worlds alike. If that’s not bad enough, there’s a war brewing between the Mortal and Immortal Realms, and one of these teens is destined to tip the scales. The only question is: which way?
Wish them luck. They’re going to need it.
Other Book Recommendations:
Books featured in our 2020 What’s the Buzz event
Our 2020 Gift Guide