Kindness Week: Reading List

April 3 to April 8, 2016 is the third annual Kindness Week. We rounded up this handy list of picture books, and middle grade and young adult novels for those who want to celebrate this week and year-round.

Noni Speaks UpNoni Speaks Up
Written Heather Hartt-Sussman
Illustrated by Geneviève Côté
Hardcover | 24 Pages | Ages 3-7
ISBN: 9781770498396
Noni always tries to do the right thing. But she doesn’t know how to help her classmate Hector, who is constantly bullied for his name, his size and his giant glasses. Noni stands by silently, afraid that the kids will turn on her if she speaks up. Yet “doing nothing” doesn’t feel very good. Will Noni be brave enough to take matters into her own hands?

Bird ChildBird Child
Written by Nan Forler
Illustrated by François Thisdale
Hardcover | 32 Pages | Ages 5-8
ISBN: 978-0-88776-894-1
Eliza’s mother has given her “wings to fly” and the ability to see all the possibilities that lie before her. So, when bullies pick on the new student, Lainey, gradually robbing her of her smile and ability to paint beautiful pictures, Eliza wants to help, and she does, by finding a way to show Lainey all that she can be.

When I Get OlderWhen I Get Older
The Story behind “Wavin’ Flag”
Written by K’NAAN and Sol Guy
Illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez
Hardcover | 32 Pages | Ages 6-9
ISBN: 978-1-77049-302-5
Like so many other immigrants, K’naan had to make a place for himself in a world of alien customs, clothes, and language. His road was a hard one: he lost many friends to violence. But K’naan’s love of music, and his enormous talent, became a way for him to connect with his past, with his classmates, and eventually, to millions of people around the world.

Best Friends through EternityBest Friends through Eternity
Written by Sylvia McNicoll
Hardcover | 192 Pages | Ages 12+
ISBN: 978-1-77049-710-8
eBook: 978-1-77049-712-2
Fourteen-year-old Paige, who, taking a shortcut alongside the tracks to avoid the school bullies, is tragically hit by a train and transported to a surreal world where she encounters Kim, who died seven years before. Convinced she is only dreaming, Paige must discover a way to return to her former life. Poignant, gripping, and full of unexpected twists and turns, Best Friends through Eternity will resonate with readers who have struggled with cultural identity, a sense of belonging, and the real meaning of home.

We Are All Made of MoleculesWe Are All Made of Molecules
Written by Susin Nielsen
Hardcover | 256 Pages | Ages 12+
ISBN: 978-1-77049-779-5
eBook: 978-1-77049-781-8
Thirteen-year-old Stewart Inkster is academically brilliant but “ungifted” socially. Fourteen-year-old Ashley Anderson is the undisputed “It” girl of grade nine, but her marks stink. Their worlds are about to collide when Stewart and his dad move in with Ashley and her mom. “The Brady Bunch” it isn’t. Stewart is trying to be 89.9% happy about it, but Ashley is 110% horrified. She already has to hide the truth behind her parents’ divorce; “Spewart” could further threaten her position at the top of the social ladder. They are complete opposites. And yet, no matter their differences, they share one thing in common: they – like the rest of us – are all made of molecules.

The Serpent KingThe Serpent King
Written by Jeff Zentner
Hardcover | 384 Pages | Ages 14+
ISBN: 978-1-77049-883-9
eBook: 978-1-77049-885-3
Dillard Early, Jr., Travis Bohannon and Lydia Blankenship are three friends from different walks of life who have one thing in common: none of them seem to fit the mold in rural Tennessee’s Forrestville High. As the three friends begin their senior year, it becomes clear that they won’t all be getting to start a promising new life after graduation. How they deal with their diverging paths could cause the end of their friendship. Until a shattering act of random violence forces Dill to wrestle with his dark legacy and find a way into the light of a future worth living.

Fifteen LanesFifteen Lanes
Written by S.J. Laidlaw
Hardcover | 304 Pages | Ages 14+
ISBN: 978-1-10191-780-0
eBook: 978-1-10191-782-4
Noor has lived all of her fourteen years in the fifteen lanes of Mumbai’s red light district. Across the sprawling city, fifteen-year-old Grace enjoys a life of privilege. Her father, the CEO of one of India’s largest international banks, has brought his family to Mumbai where they live in unparalleled luxury. But Grace’s seemingly perfect life is shattered when she becomes a victim of a cruel online attack. When their paths intersect, Noor and Grace will be changed forever. Can two girls living in vastly different worlds find a common path?

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Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week

This year, Bullying Awareness Week is from November 12-17. Here are some resources for parents, teachers, and librarians:

Bird Child
Written by Nan Forler
Illustrated by François Thisdale
Hardcover | 32 Pages
Ages: 5-8
ISBN: 978-0-88776-894-1
“Magical and ethereal do not typically describe tales of bullying, but this lyrical combination of realism and fantasy defies expectation…. This is a beautiful book with a somber tone, buoyed by Eliza and Lainey’s triumph in imagining possibilities. They do not fight the bully, but defy him by becoming friends.” – School Library Journal

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen
Written by Susin Nielsen
Hardcover | 256 Pages
Ages: 11-14
ISBN: 978-1-77049-372-8
“…a highly emotional story about a family that blames one another, and themselves, for an unimaginable tragedy. Nielsen’s balance of humor and pathos is finely honed, making this a surprisingly breezy read for so heavy a topic.” – Booklist

When I Get Older
The Story behind “Wavin’ Flag”

Written by K’NAAN and Sol Guy
Illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez
Hardcover | 32 Pages
Ages: 6-9
ISBN: 978-1-77049-302-5
“Internationally known musician K’naan … recounts his struggle as a young immigrant from Somalia to fit in and how he was bullied for looking and dressing differently from his classmates.” – Publishers Weekly

Guest Post: Bullying Awareness Week

Please welcome today’s guest blogger, Bird Child author, Nan Forler! As a mother and teacher, she encourages her students and her own children to speak out against injustice, both in the schoolyard and in the global community.

Nan Forler: November 15th – 19th has been designated as Bullying Awareness Week, in Canada and other countries around the world.  In the next week, I will visit many schools to spread the message of Bird Child, the message of standing up for a friend in the schoolyard, of speaking out against injustice.

Since the release of Bird Child, I have become aware of more and more issues related to bullying.  Parents and children tell me their stories; friends send me links; school boards plan huge initiatives to combat bullying.

Bullying has always been with us.  We used to think it was a rite of passage – just a part of growing up.  As our society evolves, we are seeing bullying for what it is: socially deviant behaviour that can have devastating effects on the well-being of our children.

So often, we focus on the bully and the victim, or target, in a bullying situation, but we forget the other essential character in the scene: the bystander.  As a teacher, I know the power of the bystander on the playground.  As most bullying happens in a manner that is hidden from adults, we need to equip our children in how to be effective bystanders, in order to reduce the impact of bullying incidents.

In my school presentations, I talk about the two choices a bystander can make: do nothing or act.  I emphasize the point that doing nothing actually gives the bully more power.  Every time we stand and watch and do nothing, the bully becomes bigger and more powerful.

So what can we guide our kids to do?  Standing up to a bully takes a great deal of courage.  Ask your child about the kids who are left out at school, the kids who are alone during recess, who are treated unkindly.  Ask about their own feelings when witnessing bullying.  Being a bystander can bring on anxiety and fear as well as lowering self-esteem.  Your child may feel guilty or ashamed for doing nothing and worried about being the next victim.  Open up the discussion and gently guide your child in coming up with a solution.  You can even role-play, or give your child a rehearsed response to say to a classmate or friend who bullies, such as ”That’s not fair,” or “How would you feel if that was you?”  Encourage your child to discuss the situation with the teacher.  Help your child generate ways to make the classmate feel included.

Kids who learn to stand up against injustice in the schoolyard are more likely to speak out against injustice in the future, whether it be in the workplace, the community, or the global society.   Sometimes it just takes one voice, the voice of a child, to bring hope to many.

Turning Pages 2010

We are happy to hear that there is a new literary festival for children in Kitchener-Waterloo!

Here are the scheduled times for our authors and illustrators:

11:30 am – Laura Beingessner
Illustrator of Our Corner Grocery Store and Sail Away With Me.

3:00 pm – Heather Hart-Sussman
Heather Hart-Sussman wants to tell you about Nana’s wedding. Life with Nana is perfect, that is until she meets Bob!

3:30 pm – Nan Forler
Local teacher, Nan Forler, brings the story of Bird Child alive. Bullying and the ability to rise above it are at the heart of this strikingly beautiful picture book.

Turning Pages – A Literary Festival
Date: Saturday, May 15th, 2010
When: 10:00am-9:00pm
Where: The Children’s Museum
Address: 10 King Street West, Kitchener, ON N2G 1A3
Admission: $10 each or buy any kids or teen book from Words Worth Books and receive 25% off a single admission!

Guest Post: Nan Forler

Nan Forler, author of Bird Child, was invited to participate in gritLIT 2010. Here, she recaps her adventures in Hamilton for the festival and a reading at a school she used to teach in. Sounds like she had a busy (but fun) week! Photos courtesy of Nan Forler.

Nan Forler: I have recently returned from two days of readings at inner-city schools: the first two as part of the Hamilton GritLit Literary Festival, and the second at a school Read-a-thon in Kitchener.

You can feel the spirit when you walk into these inner-city schools. There is a joy among the kids, a sense of belonging in a place where they are free to be themselves. The teachers seem to have a palpable love of the school and the sense of humour needed to get through each day.

I drive through the fog and rain to Earl Kitchener School, where Lindsay Hodder, the children’s event coordinator for GritLit, welcomes me at the door. She has everything meticulously arranged and ready to go. We wander up and down stairs and through old brick corridors, with a history and character you don’t find in the “leafy green schools,” as those of us who teach in poorer neighbourhoods refer to the fancy new buildings in suburbia. The audience is much larger than planned, but the students are wonderfully attentive and eager to participate, the teachers supportive and welcoming. Sincere thank yous as we pack up to leave.

That afternoon, I drive past Hess Street School twice, questioning my GPS that insists I have arrived at my destination. The school is tucked between factories and row houses, with no parking for me, my guitar, and my gear in the pouring rain.

Hess Street School is 75% ESL students, the literacy teacher tells us. “You’ll love these kids,” she adds. And who wouldn’t? The students file in, a United Nations of faces, the future of Canada in front of me. With every question, a hundred hands of varying shades shoot up, some students so eager to answer, they can barely hold it in. During the reading, there is complete silence, until the oohs and awes of the final image, the huge snow castle filling the wall of their gymnasium, then appreciative applause.

Afterwards, the students run towards me, wanting to strum my guitar, page through the book, talk to me. A little boy picks up a tiny feather left behind and looks up at me. “You can have that if you’d like,” I tell him. He clutches it in his hand and smiles. I sit down for a photo and the students fight to sit close to me, to hold the book, to put their arms around me. In the hall afterwards, they hug me as they pass, then continue walking. They shout thank you and clap and cheer from the school yard as we leave. One boy bolts towards us and says in careful English, “Thank you for reading your book, Bird Child, to our school, Nan Forler.”

The following morning I am off to my beloved St. Bernadette, a school close to downtown Kitchener, where I taught for 3 years. I am exhausted and fighting off a migraine and a cold but it feels like I am coming home. I know this school, these kids, this staff. I know the challenges that come from teaching here, that go far beyond curriculum, that have to do with helping to raise up children in spite of the life they have been handed. I understand when the principal tells me, her eyes filled with tears, that yesterday was a heart-breaking day.

Again, I feel the love of appreciative kids. “You the best story, Ms Forler,” one girl tells me, pointedly.

I hope these experiences pass on the love of literacy to these kids. I am thankful that the Hamilton GritLit Festival chose these schools as the audience for this story, that the teachers and parents at St. Bernadette chose a Read-a-thon for the school fundraiser.

Standing up for kids like these, being a voice for those who are voiceless, passing on a love of literacy, bringing about justice – this is the message of Bird Child. This is what it’s all about.

2010 SYRCA Willow Awards

The following Tundra books are nominated for the 2010 Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Award:

Bird Child
By Nan Forler
Illustrated by François Thisdale
ISBN 978-0-88776-894-1
Hardcover
32 Pages
Nominated in the Shining Willow category (kindergarten – grade 3)
Bullying and the ability to rise above it are at the heart of this strikingly beautiful picture book. All school-aged children have either bullied, been bullied, or witnessed bullying, and all too often, they feel powerless to stop what has been set in motion.

Dear Toni
By Cyndi Sand-Eveland
ISBN 978-0-88776-876-7
Hardcover
136 Pages
Nominated in the Diamond Willow category (grades 4-6)
When sixth-grader Gene Tucks moves south, she dreads being the new kid at school and almost everything else about her life as a “nobody.” But what she dreads most is the hundred-day journal-writing assignment her teacher has given the class. His brilliant idea is to have the journals locked in the town museum’s vault for forty years so that future grade-sixers can read them.

Word Nerd
By Susin Nielsen
ISBN 978-0-88776-875-0
Hardcover
256 Pages
Nominated in the Snow Willow category (grades 7-9)
In this brilliantly observed novel, author Susin Nielsen transports the reader to the world of competitive Scrabble as seen from the honest yet funny viewpoint of a boy who’s searching for acceptance and for a place to call home.

The Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Award allows over 10,000 students and young adults to read and vote for their favorite books. Award winners will be announced at a gala that will be held in the spring. For more info on the SYRCA Willow Awards, please visit www.willowawards.ca.

Congratulations to the abovementioned authors and illustrator!

OLA Best Bets 2009

Each year the OLA Best Bets Committee selects the top 10 Canadian picture books, fiction and non fiction for children and fiction for teens. The selections are presented at OLA Superconference. Here are the Tundra titles that made their 2009 lists:

Picture Books:

Bird Child
By Nan Forler
Illustrated by François Thisdale
ISBN 978-0-88776-894-1
Hardcover
32 Pages
Ages 5-8
Bullying and the ability to rise above it are at the heart of this strikingly beautiful picture book.

Proud as a Peacock, Brave as a Lion
By Jane Barclay
Illustrated by Renné Benoit
ISBN 978-0-88776-951-1
Hardcover
24 Pages
Ages 4-7
Proud as a Peacock, Brave as a Lion has relevance to a growing number of families, as new waves of soldiers leave home.

Same Same
By Marthe Jocelyn
Illustrated by Tom Slaughter
ISBN 978-0-88776-885-9
Hardcover
24 Pages
Ages 2-5
Forget about differences! Here’s a wonderful new concept book to explore and enjoy!

Timmerman was Here
By Colleen Sydor
Illustrated by Nicolas Debon
ISBN 978-0-88776-890-3
Hardcover
32 Pages
Ages 4-7
Timmerman Was Here is a charming tale of mystery, perception, and the gift of friendship.

Children’s Fiction:

The Battle for Duncragglin
By Andrew Vanderwal
ISBN 978-0-88776-886-6
Hardcover
320 Pages
Ages 11+
Set in the time of William Wallace, this is historical fiction at its bloody best!

Watching Jimmy
By Nancy Hartry
ISBN 978-0-88776-871-2
Hardcover
160 Pages
Ages 9+
A novel of danger, warmth, and dark humor — about a brain-damaged young boy and the friend who knows a terrible secret.

Vanishing Girl
By Shane Peacock
ISBN 978-0-88776-852-1
Hardcover
320 Pages
Ages 10-14
The third case in the compelling Boy Sherlock Holmes series is full of as many twists and turns as the backstreets of Victorian London.

Children’s Non Fiction:

It’s a Snap! George Eastman’s First Photograph
By Monika Kulling
Illustrated by Bill Slavin
ISBN 978-0-88776-881-1
Hardcover
32 Pages
Ages 5-8
Monica Kulling’s spunky, playful text is beautifully complemented by the stunning pen-and-ink with watercolour illustrations of artist Bill Slavin.

Which books do you think will make the 2010 list?