Becoming a Reader

Today was a nice day with the birds chirping and the bees buzzing. I read a book called Sisters. It was a nice book about a family going to their cousins.

Covid-19. Covid-19 has changed everything, including me. One way it has changed me is that I don’t feel the need to go outside anymore. I am scared that I will never want to go outside ever again after Covid-19. But sometimes I do think what it would be like to go outside and not be stuck in this house all day. But again, whenever god makes something happen, it is good. Even if it seems bad.

Since I have been staying inside all the time,  I have started to read a lot more. Like I said in the beginning,  I read a book called Sisters. That is not the only book I have read. I am now reading Smile. That book is good, too. I am starting to like it even more. 

I have also been playing with my brother who is 4 months old. I will tell you one thing: he screams a lot. Like last night. I don’t know what happened to him, but he started screaming and crying so loudly, it scared my mom and me a lot. 

But even after all that, even after all the hard times right now, I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings and what it will be like.  – Darshpreet in grade 6 

More journal excerpts


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Journals and Diaries

“It’s Spring. Everyone can’t wait to go outside. But this Spring is different; everybody is quarantined because of the coronavirus. I am getting bored and more bored as every second passes by, so I go on a walk around our farm. 

“There are puddles of water on the ground. I try to make sure I don’t step in them. It’s cloudy and it looks like a sad day. I can hear birds chirping from far away but I can’t see them. It’s also windy. I walk around and see all the mud and all the soaked plants. 

“I normally hear our neighbours’ children, who are teenagers, revving their cars because they are expensive and they want to show them off. I usually see a lot of people coming to throw garbage at the compost area in front of our house, but not today. I usually see people come parachuting at the Skydive area near us, but not today.

“My parents went to the store to buy sanitizer, gloves and masks from the store and when they came back I asked, “Was there anybody even there?” They told me that there were no people at parks or walking outside but quite a few people at the store. There was barely any sanitizer left and there were no gloves or masks left. They had to go to five different stores to find everything we needed.” – Mehtej in grade six

More excerpts from journals

Journals become history. 

History tells stories…

Liu, Na and Andrés Vera Martínez. Little White Duck: a Childhood in China. Minneapolis: Graphic Universe, 2012.
Da Qin and her younger sister live with their parents in the city of Wuhan, China. This thought-provoking graphic novel – composed of 8 short stories – describes the author’s childhood in the 1970s. Emotive illustrations by the author’s husband – Andrés Vera Martínez – help to create a powerful portrait of life for two little girls in a changing world. Recommended for competent readers 9 years old and up.

McMullan, James. Leaving China: An Artist Paints His World War II Childhood. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Algonquin, 2014.
Do you ever feel like you’re not quite good enough? That you can’t ever please your parents? That you don’t belong anywhere? Read this memoir about an artist who grew up moving from China to Canada to India to the U.S.A. where he became a highly acclaimed designer and illustrator. A 113-page autobiography – with full-page illustrations – recommended for readers 10 years old and up.

More stories based on the author’s memories

      “Last night, I found out about something that for me, is the scariest thing so far.  I live in a quiet neighbourhood, but the street in front of my house is one of the main streets in my city.  On the busy street, there is a place where people who are retired or are old live.  Then, last night, my family and I found out that some people were diagnosed with Covid-19.
       “Everything is so strange.  Who would ever think that on April 2, it would snow?  I mean it is not snowing a lot, just small flurries.  Just three days ago, it was sunny.  A beautiful blue sky with some white clouds gently but swiftly moving across the sky.  And now, today just a while ago, it was snowing.
        “Same thing with Covid-19.  Three months ago, everything was perfect; but now everything is the complete opposite.  The only words that I hear on the news are Covid-19 and deaths.  I really want to go outside and play or have a nice walk; but what do I do? It is cold out and it just snowed.  I definitely do not want to get sick!
“I might play some games with my siblings or maybe help my mom in the kitchen.  For now, all we can do is hope that doctors and scientists work together to find a cure and stop Covid-19!” – Esha in grade 6

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Real Life in Books

READ AROUND THE WORLD: A Reflection by Gurnoor in Grade 6

                From books, I have learned about real life. The Human Body taught me much about myself! I learned that if you are very sick for more than a week and not feeling any better, it is a wise choice to go to the doctor and get a check up. Two books about Canada, Nunavut and Yukon informed me about two of our territories. I discovered that in Nunavut, the traditional flower is the purple saxifrage, and in the Yukon, the official bird is the raven. A book about a famous Canadian, Roberta Bondar, showed me that determination can lead to outstanding results. I learned that Roberta Bondar went into space in 1992 for the first time, and the she studied neurology: disorders of the nervous system, the eyes and inner ear. Finally, Malala and Iqbal taught me about courage. I read that Malala and Iqbal both stood up for the good and fought for two really important things, the education of girls and the ending of slavery, which has inspired me to become a lawyer. Reading nonfiction books has greatly improved my understanding of real life.

More biographies

More stories of courage

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More Stories of Life


        From reading all different sorts of stories that were set all over the world, I have learnt that all people experience both hardships and joys in life. For example, in the story An Adventure in Venice, I have learned that life is not always fair, not even on a vacation; Zoe, a little girl, loses her dog Mickey while in Italy. In A Faraway Island and A Night Divided, I have observed that when life is tough, people have to be brave; in the first novel, two Jewish sisters are sent from Austria to Sweden because of World War 2 and in the second novel, Gerta’s family gets divided overnight by the Berlin Wall in Germany. In Little Red Riding Hood, I noticed that sometimes not following directions can get a person into danger; Little Red Riding Hood on the way to visit her sick grandmother does not obey her mother and is endangered by a wolf. In Desmond and the Very Mean Word, I saw that hurting someone’s feelings is very unkind; some boys shout a very mean word at Desmond which turns his happiness and joy into sadness and anger.  In Good Morning China, I discovered that almost everyone has some kind of special activity that makes them happy; in China, some children play basketball in the morning and other children water the plants. Overall, I have learnt a lot of amazing things about life! – Avneet in grade 6


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Stories of Life

           From stories, I have learned a lot about life. I learned about racism in The Last Pass: two basketball teammates were friends but one always blamed himself for not helping his friend who was an African-American in a city with a bad history regarding race; I realized that people should always help their friends. I also learned about racism in Back of the Bus: in 1955 in Alabama, Rosa Parks was arrested for not giving her seat to a white person on the Montgomery bus; I realized that it is important to do what is right even when it feels dangerous, especially when laws are unjust. I also learned about unfairness in The Breadwinner: Afghan women have to stay inside their homes unless they wear burqas because men and women are not treated equally; I realized that I am fortunate to live in a country where both men and women are treated with respect. Unfairness was also shown in Breaking Stalin’s Nose: in the 1940s in the capital of Russia – Moscow – a boy named Sasha aspires to be a Soviet Pioneer until he witnesses his father taken away by the secret police because of a false report; I realized once again that I am fortunate to live in a country that is not communist. I learned that sometimes people have to find their own ways to survive difficulties in Silent Music: Ali, who loves soccer and loud music, lives in Baghdad, a dangerous place undergoing difficult times where he has to stay quietly indoors all day, so he spends his time practicing calligraphy; I learned that I am fortunate to live in a safe country where I can go outside whenever it is safe. But now when there is Covid-19 spreading all over the world and people are told to stay indoors, I am inspired to be creative and to always have hope and to learn at home. From picture books and novels, I have learned how to live with courage when there are dangerous times.  – Mehtej in grade six

Ellis, Deborah. The Breadwinner. Toronto: Douglas & McIntyre, 2000.
Pomerantz, Gary M. The Last Pass. New York: Penguin Press, 2018.
Reynolds, Aaron. Back of the Bus. New York: Philomel Books, 2010.
Rumsford, James. Silent Music. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2008.
Yelchin, Eugene. Breaking Stalin’s Nose. New York: Henry Holt, 2011.

More stories of courage


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The Day the World Stopped Turning

Morpurgo, Michael. The Day the World Stopped Turning. New York: Feiwel and Friends, 2019.
A teenager, tired of his studies in England, travels to France where he discovers a story from the second world war: An autistic boy and a Roma girl had met in a village and become friends. But when German soldiers had invaded, their lives were in danger. All Morpurgo’s novels are competently written, but most are for younger readers. In contrast, this sophisticated coming-of-age novel is highly recommended for thoughtful readers 12 years old and up.

P.S. Any novel by Feiwel and Friends is worth picking up. The topic might not interest you, but the writing will be wonderful.

More stories of autism

More stories of World War 2

More stories set in France

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Flett, Julie. Birdsong. Vancouver, BC: Greystone Kids/Greystone Books, 2019.
A young Cree girl moves to the countryside where she makes a new friend, an elderly woman who shares her love of art. Passing through the seasons of the year, this wistful picture book is filled with quiet love. It can take its place along with Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney as a story for readers who appreciate the power of creativity.

More books about the power of art

“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” – Leonardo da Vinci

More indigenous stories

“One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

More Canadian writers

“It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.” – Vincent Van Gogh

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