Apr 29, 2022
Along with libraries across the country, the Ottawa Public Library (OPL) will celebrate Canadian Children’s Book Week between May 1 and May 7. The goal of Canadian Children’s Book Week is to connect children and teens with the work of Canadian authors and illustrators and celebrate the joy of reading diverse picture books, novels, and graphic novels. During the COVID-19 pandemic, our society has grappled with social isolation, health issues, financial or work-related stressors and many other adversities. From these experiences, a new kind of hero has emerged. These heroes don’t (usually) wear capes and their superpowers aren’t flying or turning green and muscular. Rather, what makes them super is their kindness towards others, empathy, perseverance, and ability to find humor in trying circumstances. This development has been reflected in recent children’s literature.
In Choose Kindness, by Ruth Ohi, a group of animal friends cheer each other up, and work together to solve problems. Written for children between ages 3 and 8, and great for family reads, the characters in this picture book exemplify the characteristics that make a hero. Genie Meanie, by Mahtab Narsimhan, is the story of how Kiara learns to solve her problems on her own, without the help of magic. When Kiara finds out that her recently deceased grandma has left her a genie in a jar of garam-masala, she’s delighted; the class bully is making school miserable for Kiara and her best friend, and so she thinks magic can solve the problem. The genie, however, has other ideas, and has no desire to help. Though it has a supernatural element, this is a story (aimed at children in grades one to three), of self-confidence and believing in oneself. Don’t Stand So Close to Me by Eric Walters shows us the beginning of the pandemic from the perspective of thirteen-year-old Quinn and her friends. Initially delighted with the extension of spring break, the gang comes to understand the changes and sacrifices they will need to make to keep themselves and others safe. These include online school and avoiding in-person visits with vulnerable family members. Perfect for older children, this story highlights the importance of focusing on the positive aspects of a situation and maintaining a sense of humor, while validating their pandemic experience.
These are a just a few examples of great, recent books by Canadian authors and illustrators. To find more great reads, check out our reading list below. Happy gentle reading!