Essential Books for Weaving Children S Literature Into Social Studies

Essential Books for Weaving Children S Literature Into Social Studies


Book Box Annotated List for

Weaving Children’s Literature into Social Studies, K-5

48 Books

  1. Bannatyne-Cugnet, Jo. A Prairie Alphabet, 1992, 0887762921. Paintings of astounding realism--one for each letter of the alphabet--reveal a Western Canadian rural world throughout the seasons. Brief alliterative sentences provide a verbal frame for each painting--but readers will enjoy looking for additional items beginning with the featured letter.
  2. Bash, Barbara. In the Heart of the Village: The World of the Indian Banyan Tree. 1996, 1578050804. Describes the importance of a banyan tree to a village in India, socially, environmentally, and spiritually.
  3. Birch, David. The King’s Chessboard.1988, 0140548807. A wise man shows that pride can make a fool of anyone, even a king, since he does not stop to think how many “a grain of rice doubled each day on each subsequent square of a chessboard” really means.
  4. Brucker, Meredith Babeaux. Anklet for a Princess: A Cinderella Story from India. 2002, 1885008201. Cinduri, hungry and ragged, is befriended by Godfather Snake, who feeds her delicacies and dresses her in gold cloth and anklets with bells and diamonds, to meet the prince.
  5. Carrier, Roch. The Flying Canoe. 2004, 0887766366. In this retelling of a classic folktale from Quebec, it’s New Year’s Eve, 1846, and 11-year-old Baptiste has come to live and work among the lumberjacks of Canada. They all miss their friends and families. As midnight approaches, they come up with a magical plan to get them home for the New Year celebrations.
  6. Charles, Veronika. Birdman, 2006, 0887767400. In this true story, Noor Nobi is devastated when he loses his family and nothing can console him until he discovers the birds in the local market. It transforms his life and the lives of many others, including thousands of captive birds.
  7. Cherry, Lynne. River Ran Wild. 2002, 0-15-216372-7. An environmental history of the Nashua River, from its discovery by Indians through the polluting years of the Industrial revolution to the ambitious cleanup that revitalized it.
  8. Cherry, Lynn. The Shaman's Apprentice. 2001, 0152024867. For thousands of years, in the jungles of the Amazon, shamans have passed their wisdom of the medicinal values of rain forest plants from one generation to the next. The Shaman's Apprentice tells the story of a Tirio Indian boy who dreams of one day being the tribal shaman, and how he and his people learn the importance of their own knowledge about the healing properties of the rain forest.
  9. Cooney, Barbara. Miss Rumphius, 1994, 0140505393. This is a book about what one person does to “make the world more beautiful.” Great Aunt Alice has lived a full life, but it is her twilight years, when she plants flowers throughout the countryside where she lives, that she finds most fulfilling. Cooney’s paintings for the book certainly do their bit to “make the world more beautiful.” A book to be read and re-read. This story takes place in New England, but would work well as a story from Acadia, since the geography, flowers, buildings, coastline, etc. are so similar.
  10. dePaola, Tomie. The Legend of Old Befana. 1980, 0152438173. Because Befana’s household chores kept her from finding the Baby King, she searches to this day, leaving gifts for the children on the Feast of the Three Kings.
  11. Downie, Mary Alice. A Pioneer ABC. 2005, 0887766889. Alliterative sentences for each letter with lovely pioneer pictures for each taken from the lives of the United Empire Loyalists who escaped to Canada after the American Revolution.
  12. Einarson, Earl. Moccasins, The. 2004, 1-894778-14-6. A foster mother gives her young foster child a pair of moccasins which make him feel accepted and loved. By the time he grows out of them, he no longer needs them but when he has his own child, the wise foster mother knows just what gift to give. The illustrations are simple and tactile. Here is a simple circular tale that reinforces the warmth and love one can receive from a caring person. A positive example of a foster parent and foster child relationship. A cautionary note: it would be important for the teacher to check the students' backgrounds, especially if he/she suspects that a child is in foster care.
  13. Gilman, Phoebe. Something From Nothing, 1993, 059073802X. Joseph’s baby blanket, which is beginning to wear out, is transformed by his grandfather, a tailor, into increasingly smaller items (a jacket, a vest, a tie…) until there is just enough material left for one last thing—a good story. Gilman captures a turn-of-the-century Jewish community, and also tells a parallel story of a mouse family living beneath the floorboards.
  14. Graham, Georgia. The Strongest Man This Side of Cremona. 1998, 0889951829. Great Alberta prairie, farm, and mountain pictures in this story of Matthew and his dad. They encounter something even stronger than his dad – a tornado.
  15. Guymer, Myrna. Canadian Shield Alphabet. 2008, 9781894431231. Lots of interesting and little-known facts about the people and regions of the Canadian Shield. Beautifully illustrated.
  16. Hacker, Carlotta. The Kids Book of Canadian History, 2002, 1-55074-868-8. Excellent overview of Canadian History, with 2-4 pages on each of 22 topics ranging from Canada’s First People to the latest territory of Nunavut. Many pages include a “Did you Know,” “Quick Facts” boxes, or profiles of prominent Canadians through the years. Includes table of contents, a useful timeline and an index.
  17. Hehner, Barbara. Spirit of Canada: Canada’s Story in Legends, Fiction, Poems, and Songs, 2001, 0773762000. A marvelous must-have anthology of stories, poems and songs spanning Canadian history, and including many well loved stories and poems. Lots of colour illustrations.
  18. Hughes, Susan. Coming to Canada: Building A Life in A New Land. 2005, 1897066465. WOW Canada! series. An essential book! Tells the stories in brief and interesting text with lots of good illustrations of many of the immigrant groups that have come to Canada, starting with the Filles du Roi right up to the Somalian refugees in the 1990’s.
  19. Joose, Barbara. Mama, Do You Love Me? 1991, 0-87701-759-X. This is a delightful story of a child testing her mother's unconditional love. Her mother is very reassuring and proves that a parent's love is everlasting. It's the Arctic setting that sets the story apart. The book includes a detailed glossary that describes the distinctively different Inuit culture.
  20. Kessler, Deirdre. Lobster in My Pocket, 1987, 1551094231. Although has just black and white lines drawings, the story is charming and provides lots of details about life in Acadia. Lee lives in a fishing village. One day she hears a little voice coming from a lobster crate and she discovers Lucky, a talking lobster. Lee sets Lucky free and Lucky returns the favour one day when Lee nearly drowns in a wild spring storm.
  21. Koldofsky, Eleanor. Clip-Clop. 2005, 0887766811. This nostalgic story harkens back to the days of horse-drawn wagons and carriages.
  22. Krebs, Laurie. Up and Down the Andes: A Peruvian Festival Tale. 2008, 9781846862038. A lively trip through the Andes mountains of Peru on the way to the festival in Cusco.
  23. Life Like Mine: How Children Live Around the World, 2002, 0-7894-8859-0, Dorling Kindersley. This is a large format book with many large, bright photographs on every page to illustrate the lives of children from 17 different countries around the world. The photographs show children in a variety of community activities, and the text further explores the cultural diversity. The contents of the book are organized under 4 broad areas that pertain to children's needs - Survival, Development, Protection, Participation. Published in association with the United Nations Children's Fund.
  24. London, Jonathan. The Sugaring-Off Party. 1995, 1895555841. Paul, anxious to be going to his first maple-sugaring party tomorrow, asks Grand-mere to tell him about what it was like when she was young and took part in the cabane a sucre. Gilles Pelletier’s paintings--filled with brilliant colour--explore the sights, sounds, and tastes of a special time in a French-Canadian community.
  25. Martin, Jacqueline Briggs. Lamp, the Ice, and the Boat Called Fish, 2001, 0-618-00341-X. Based on the true story of the boat “Fish,” part of the Canadian Arctic Expedition in 1913, this beautiful book details the struggle to survive in the high arctic. It demonstrates the knowledge needed for survival in the far north and the skills the Inupiaq had for survival. The explorers take along an Inupiaq family for their survival skills and knowledge. The family provides hunting skills, sewing, snow houses, and much care and wisdom for the expedition.
  26. McLeod. Tom. The Delta is My Home. 2008, 9781897252321. Tom McLeod is an11-year-old boy. He tells about such things as how the Mackenzie Delta floods, how to make bannock and about “ratting” (trapping muskrats) and hunting black ducks.
  27. Munsch, Robert and Michael Kusugak. A Promise is a Promise. 1988, 155037009X. Allashua, a little Inuit girl, disobeys her mother’s warning that the Quallupelluq (an imaginary fruit creature like a troll) will take her away if she fishes in the crack in the ocean. In exchange for her life, Allashua promises to bring her brothers and sisters to the crack in the ocean ice. Her family’s courageous trek allows Allashua to keep both her family--and her promise.
  28. Munsch, Robert. From Far Away, 1995, 155037396X. Saoussan, a little girl from a war-torn city moves to Canada with her family. At first, school is difficult: she speaks no English, she can't understand her teacher, she can't even ask to use the bathroom. Little by little, Saoussan becomes comfortable in her new school and even decides to change her name to Susan but finds her mother obstinate on that point. The book takes on a difficult theme and communicates it effectively on a child's level. A good choice for discussing the immigrant experience.
  29. Muth, Jon J. The Three Questions, 2002, 0439199964. Based upon the Three Questions, by Leo Tolstoy, the author has simplified and adapted the tale for younger audiences. His Zen simplicity and watercolour illustrations combine to make the readers ponder while the author's notes fill in the blanks for older readers. Compassion and living in the moment are the theme for a young boy's search for answers he eventually finds within himself.
  30. Pallotta, Jerry. Going Lobstering. 1990, 2008, 978-1570916236. A lovely day at the beach turns very exciting when two youngsters go out lobstering on Big Joe’s lobster boat.
  31. Parr, Todd. The Family Book. 2003, 0-316-73896-4. Presents a variety of families, some big and some small, some with only one parent and some with two moms or dads, some quiet and some noisy, but all alike in some ways and special no matter what. Great for any family topic, and also useful in dealing with situations where one child seems to be "different." Great colours and illustrations!
  32. Polacco, Patricia. Keeping Quilt, 1998, 0689844476. An immigrant Jewish family makes a patchwork quilt from clothing that has belonged to family members. The quilt becomes a symbol of love and faith as it is passed from generation to generation.
  33. Polacco, Patricia. Luba and the Wren: A Ukrainian Folktale. 1999, 0698119223. Luba lives happily in her dacha in the country with her mama and papa – until she helps a frightened wren. She only means to help the wren, as she would any creature, but when the wren returns the favor, Luba’s life changes! “Ask for anything you wish,” the wren says. Luba wants nothing, but her mama and papa want many things.
  34. Pryor, Bonnie. House on Maple Street, 1992, 0688120318. When Chris and Jenny find a cup buried in their backyard, it begins a journey through time to discover the several groups--Natives, pioneers, early townspeople--who have lived on the site.
  35. Reynolds, Marilynn. The Name of the Child. 2002, 1551432218. A boy is sent to the country to escape the epidemic of 1918. There he must overcome his fear and rescue a new baby from illness and starvation.
  36. Rosenberry, Vera. The Growing-Up Tree. 2003, 0-8234-1718-2. The life of an apple tree, planted by Alfred's mother when he was a baby, parallels Alfred's life as he and his children and grandchildren grow older together. A celebration of the cycle of life.
  37. Smith, David J. If The World Were A Village, 2002, 1550747797. An eye-opening exploration of the "global village." What would happen if we imagined the whole population of the world as a village of just 100 people? In this book we discover the nationalities, languages, ages, religions, food, and educational and living conditions of these villagers. Striking illustrations, notes for teachers and explanations of sources make this book an invaluable classroom resource for global education.
  38. Spalding, Andrew. Secret of the Dance. 2006, 1551433966. A young Aboriginal boy witnessed a secret ceremony (potlatch) after being told that dancing is forbidden by law. Evocative illustrations capture the west coast landscape and the sense of secrecy that is central to the story.
  39. Trottier, Maxine. Claire’s Gift. 1999, 059051461X. In Chéticamp, Nova Scotia, rug hooking has become an art, and its hooked rugs and wall hangings are known around the world. Young Claire has been sent to live with her great-aunt for the summer. How can Tante Marie make friends with this small silent girl? All she can think to do is to go back to hooking her rug... and suddenly Claire shows an interest. This is a heartwarming story of friendship between generations and the value of traditional crafts handed down.
  40. Trottier, Maxine. Storm at Batoche. 2000, 0773732489. During a fierce prairie storm, James falls out of his family's wagon. His parents disappear in the blizzard, but a man on horseback appears and takes James to his small cabin. The man will only say that his name is Louis. While he prepares an evening meal of “gallette,” Louis promises to teach James how to make it. James says his mother makes the same type of bread but she calls it "bannock," highlighting the differences and similarities between their cultures. This imaginary encounter between Louis Riel and a young boy reveals many details about life in the Canadian prairies around 1870.
  41. Vaage, Carol. Bibi and the Bull, 1995, 189612402X. After Grandpa has given her a tour of the farm, Bibi knows all about farm safety--but she can’t resist confronting the bull when he gets out of his pen--challenging him to a sniffing, snorting and bellowing show-down.
  42. Wallace, Ian. Boy of the Deeps. 2005, 0888996608. A story of the miners and the hardships and danger of their lives in Cape Breton.
  43. Walters, Virginia. Are We There Yet Daddy? 0142300136. Fiction with a twist. The story is told in narrative rhyming prose and is the story of a 100-mile journey to visit grandparents. Each double page features a pictorial map to mark the journey, using elementary map symbols to teach mapping skills, a full-page illustration that shows the terrain being covered. There is a 4-line poem that describes the journey and a repeated refrain “Are we there yet, Daddy?” As each page represents 10 miles the boy learns to count down from 100 by 10’s. Teaches basic math and map skills in a way that will engage young children. Unfortunately uses the American mileage system, but this could be a teaching point & kilometers substituted in oral reading.
  44. Weaver, Janice. The Quilt of Belonging: Stitching Together the Stories of a Nation. 1006, 1897066503. This beautiful book tells about a patchwork square for each country in the world that has immigrants to Canada, and shows many of the squares. For activities and information go to
  45. Wells, Rosemary. The House in the Mail. 2002, 0670035459. Writing in a scrapbook in 1927, a young girl tells the fascinating story of her family's mail-order house arriving from Sears, Roebuck. Moving out of the little house they share with their grandparents, Emily and her brother, Homer, have a lot of changes in store for them: an electric refrigerator, electric lights, a washing machine, a gas stove, and running water indoors. Luminous illustrations show, in great detail, the process of clearing the land, building a foundation, and creating a house from a kit. Hand-written captions from Emily give the illustrations a cozy, personal feel, showing the reader just how exciting a house in the mail can be.
  46. Wiebe, Rudy. Hidden Buffalo, 2003, 0-88995-285-X. Tells the story of the dependency of the Cree people on the herds of buffalo.
  47. Williams, Mary. Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan. 2005, 1584302321. Eight-year-old Garang, orphaned by civil war in Sudan, finds the strength to help lead other boys as they walk hundreds of miles seeking safety in Ethiopia, then Kenya, and finally in the United States.
  48. Winter, Jeanette. Follow the Drinking Gourd, 1992, 0679819975. Winter’s story begins with a peg-leg sailor who aids slaves in their escape on the Underground Railroad. While working for plantation owners, Peg Leg Joe teaches the slaves a song about the drinking gourd (the Big Dipper). Slaves begin to escape by following the song’s directions. History in picture book format.

Weaving Children’s Literature into Social Studies K-5ndix Iaple St K-5 Workshop Facilitator Guide. Developed by Edmonton Regional Learning Consortium as result of a grant from Alberta Education to support social studies implementation.