Back to School… and Back to Books!

Every year at the end of summer break, I used to set goals for the new school year. I treated it kind of like New Year’s; a fresh start that makes you think you can suddenly be the most productive person in the world. So of course I thought: “If I want to read more, I may as well read a new classic every week!” By now, I’ve realized I need to keep my goals realistic so I can achieve them. Here are some book suggestions that aren’t overwhelming, that can be read in excerpts or are part of a series… for any age group and language level!

  • The Magic Tree House series is perfect for young history and mystery lovers looking to read regularly. The books follow two siblings, Jack and Annie Smith, traveling through space and time in a magic tree house. Their adventures range from watching dinosaurs and meeting Shakespeare to being dropped into the American Civil War. The stories are short and present a wonderful variety of topics for young readers.
  • Teenagers looking for a contemporary novel will enjoy the coming of age story Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Simon Spier is a 16-year-old high school junior with an affinity for musical theatre. Lately, he’s been flirting online with a boy he only knows as “Blue”. He isn’t out of the closet; and plans on keeping it that way for the foreseeable future. This choice is taken from him when a classmate starts blackmailing him with emails Simon sent to his crush. How will he navigate this invasion of privacy while staying true to himself?
  • And for those wanting to up their classics-game, give The Hobbit a try! It’s a short and sweet classic; and combines magical story-telling with fascinating creatures. Who wouldn’t want to read tales of outsmarting trolls and running from giant spiders? For those intimidated by a novel-length classic, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil captures the same magical essence wrapped up in beautiful poetry and illustrations.

I wish all of you a wonderful start to a new school year full of reading and learning!


When we read, our minds grow wings; when we write, our fingers sing.” – Margarita Engle

There’s nothing better to escape reality than a good book, for adults and children alike. Books let us lose ourselves in worlds different from our own and are vital for children’s imaginations. This year’s motto for International Children’s Book Day is “The Music of Words”. So, in honour of today, here are some of my favourite picks for young readers! The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne transports its readers into a world full of history and magic, putting a spin on some of history’s major events. If you’re looking for something more “science-y”, The Magic School Bus is the one for you! This series unravels the magic of the human body and the world around us, magical anthropomorphic school bus and all! But just as books let us learn about ourselves, they can also bridge the gap between us and cultures unfamiliar to us. Fry Bread by Kevin Noble Maillard gives insight into Native American culture and the meaning traditional food can hold, complete with a recipe and heartwarming illustrations. The eco-critical picture books Clean Up!, The Boy Who Grew a Forest and Greta and The Giants remind us that no one is too small to make a differernce. Books can teach a multitude of things, but at times the most important part is the reading experience itself. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse features beautiful illustrations along with a story all about friendship that will make you fall in love with reading all over again. But watch out, or you’ll turn out like The Incredible Book Eating Boy! 

Check out our previous post for some books that are ideal for story-telling and reading aloud in the classroom!

What are some of your favourite nostalgic children’s books? Let us know!


Christmas Read 2020

English · 6 December 2020

He was conscious of a thousand odours floating in the air, each one connected with a thousand thoughts, and hopes, and joys, and cares, long, long, forgotten.” – Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

When the dark is lit with fairy lights and candles, the air filled with smells one more tempting than another, when warm colours and sparkling decorations make homes and houses cosier, Christmas time has come. And what could be a better way to relish the joys and thoughts and hopes than diving into a jolly good Christmas read. Here are some of our Yule favourites:

  • Sarah-Sophia’s picks:

A favourite and lovely Christmas read of mine
is a heart-warming story written in rhyme.
Who doesn’t know the creature in green
who hated the cheering, the hustle, the presents,
and everything else in between?!

So Christmas he stole, or at least so he thought,
but it was the real spirit of Christmas that he instead brought.
Little Cindy-Lou Who climbed his home high above,
and although he wanted to fight it,
she showed him the great power of love.

In the end all were cheerful and the mischievous deed with no doubt,
made everyone see what Christmas is really about.
Dr Seuss created the creature and so ever since
no Christmas goes by without a thought of the Grinch!

To keep this consistent, I’m continuing on,
‘cause with a few rhymes before Christmas
surely can’t be anything wrong.
My next Christmas pick, lovely as well, I am sure,
is a beauteous little poem by Clement Clarke Moore.

It’s about the excitement when on Christmas eve
St. Nick comes to visit with presents to leave.
He’s as always imagined: round belly, white beard and happy and kind,
A man who can secretly visit and no one will mind.

When reading the poem one can gleefully feel all the joy and great bliss
of the wondrous and magical things in Moore’s “Night Before Christmas.”

  • Sarah’s picks:

The hustle and bustle of Christmas season is at it once again. When everyone is scrambling to find that ever-elusive perfect present for every relative, friend or acquaintance, who doesn’t need some holiday serenity? My favourite way to get in the holiday spirit: listening to Christmas sing-alongs while eating half the batch of Christmas cookies I just made. And though baking reindeer-shaped cookies in the classroom isn’t really an option, who’s to say some Jingle Bells can’t bring Joy to the World in this otherwise Silent Night? The Real Mother Goose Book of Christmas Carols offers a wide range of tunes accompanied by festive illustrations. Haven’t you always wanted the perfect selection of songs that are well-known but still earn a chuckle when everyone stumbles over that 4th verse no one knew existed?

If you’re sick of sappy Christmas songs and want an amusing spin on an old tale, take a look at The Twelve Days of Christmas. I promise it’s not the jingle that gets put on repeat at the grocery store. This collection of letters tells the story of the twelve days of Christmas but from the perspective of the receiving end of those elaborate gifts. I’m sure no one would mind 5 gold rings, but what about 10 strange men dancing in your yard? The hilarious illustrations are the cherry on top of this story laced with satire.

  • Simon’s picks:

The sweet and spicy smells of gingerbread, speculoos, roasted almonds, mulled wine and eggnog herald the time before Christmas. And since we haven’t had a white Christmas for years our children and pupils long for the first snowflakes to catch, the first Snowman to build and the first sledge run to slide. Snow where art thou? As younger learners do enjoy picture books a snowy Christmas story from the perspective of a Stick Man might catch their attention. For intermediate and advanced students and teachers A New Christmas Story by Jeanette Winterson, the poem “Amazing Peace” by Maya Angelou or the movie adaptation (2005 with Johnny Depp) of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory offer an entrence in peaceful and wonderous winter worlds…

In these often stressful and unpredictable days of the pandemic, we want to bring some rest and bliss in your classrooms and offices: So, lean back in your favourite armchair, take a glass of tea or a strong sip of the Scotch next to you and enjoy your Christmas read.

Happy Saint Nicholas Day, have a wonderful pre-Christmas time and stay safe everybody,

The editors