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Nadia L. Hohn’s Essential CanLit for Young Readers

We asked children’s author, educator and Humber School for Writers alumna Nadia L. Hohn to recommend her top Canadian books for young readers. Here are her picks—and your next bookstore shopping list!

Stolen Words

Stolen Words by Melanie Florence, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard

From the Publisher: This sensitive and warmly illustrated picture book explores the intergenerational impact of the residential school system that separated young Indigenous children from their families. The story recognizes the pain of those whose culture and language were taken from them, how that pain is passed down, and how healing can also be shared.

Harriet's Daughter

Harriet’s Daughter by M. Nourbese Philip

From the Author’s Website: How does a young black teenager manage to take control of her life? Like heroine Harriet Tubman, Margaret, the spunky young woman of Harriet’s Daughter takes control with imagination, determination and a lot of help from older women in her community.


Alligator Pie

Alligator Pie by Dennis Lee

From the Publisher: One of the first illustrated books published about Canadian children and featuring Canadian place names, Alligator Pie established Dennis Lee’s reputation as “Canada’s Father Goose” and has sold more than half a million copies since its publication in 1974.



Africville by Shauntay Grant, illustrated by Eva Campbell

From the Publisher: When a young girl visits the site of Africville, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the stories she’s heard from her family come to mind. She imagines what the community was once like — the brightly painted houses nestled into the hillside, the field where boys played football, the pond where all the kids went rafting, the bountiful fishing, the huge bonfires. Coming out of her reverie, she visits the present-day park and the sundial where her great- grandmother’s name is carved in stone, and celebrates a summer day at the annual Africville Reunion/Festival.

Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery

From Wikipedia: Anne of Green Gables is a 1908 novel by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery (published as L.M. Montgomery). Written for all ages, it has been considered a classic children's novel since the mid-twentieth century. Set in the late 19th century, the novel recounts the adventures of Anne Shirley, an 11-year-old orphan girl, who is mistakenly sent to two middle-aged siblings, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, who had originally intended to adopt a boy to help them on their farm in the fictional town of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island. The novel recounts how Anne makes her way through life with the Cuthberts, in school, and within the town.


Love from A to Z

Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali

From the Publisher: From William C. Morris Award Finalist S.K. Ali comes an unforgettable romance that is part The Sun Is Also a Star mixed with Anna and the French Kiss, following two Muslim teens who meet during a spring break trip.

Naomi's Tree

Noami’s Tree by Joy Kogawa

From the Publisher: Based on the World War II story of Naomi and Stephen in Naomi's Road, Naomi's Tree is a poetic story about enduring love and its almost mystical power to heal the spirit.