Youth Book Corner: Celebrating Nonfiction

The first Thursday of November is National Nonfiction Day in the UK. With so many great nonfiction books for youth out this year, there’s no reason why this day cannot be celebrated the world over. Our Outreach Coordinator, Leena Desai, names just a few.

If You Want to Visit a Sea Garden by Kay Weisman, illustrated by Roy Vickers

From reading the news about the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, we know how important reefs are to sustain marine life. Kay Wiseman’s book If You Want to Visit a Sea Garden, with evocative illustrations by renowned artist Roy Vickers, shows us how—if we set our minds to it—we are capable of sustaining, nurturing and creating manmade reefs. For thousands of years, the First Peoples on the Pacific Northwest coast have been creating sea gardens: stone reefs constructed at the lowest tide line to encourage the growth of clams and other marine life. Through the story of a young child and an older family member who set out to explore a sea garden and dig some clams, this book conveys the importance of environmental stewardship and inculcating a love for the land and sea in children. Grades K-2

Louis Riel Day: The Fur Trade Project by Deborah L. Delaronde, illustrated by Sheldon Dawson

During his life and even after his passing, Métis leader Louis Riel was a misunderstood figure. He was painted as a rabble-rouser, an anti-establishment operative who plotted and warred against Canada. To some extent, Riel remains an inscrutable figure to this day, but at least the one-dimensional narrative about him as a rebel has changed. In this book, Louis Riel Day: The Fur Trade Project, a young boy needs to write a paper on Louis Riel on the occasion of Louis Riel Day, observed as a provincial statutory holiday on the third Monday of February in Manitoba. While his mother is busy, the boy’s grandfather helps him and together they discover the stories of the fur trade, the emergence of the Métis people, the rebellion led by Riel and the reason there’s a holiday named after him. This is a fascinating book not just about an important and influential political leader, but also about the fur trade, which was a defining era in Canadian history. Grade 1-3

Plasticus Maritimus by Ana Pego and Isabel Minhós Martins

Plastic waste—whether it is in the form of takeout bags, fishing nets or water bottles—poses a very urgent threat to ocean life. Plastic makes its way into our lakes, rivers and oceans and endangers the life of marine creatures when they consume or get entangled in it. Biologist Ana Pego has made it her life’s work to study plastic waste, even giving it the scientific name Plasticus Maritimus and this book serves as a guide to help us understand what constitutes this waste and the toxins contained therein. With the help of colourful illustrations and scientific research, Pego talks about the different kinds of plastic waste, how it makes its way into our water, its harmful impact and the steps we need to take to arrest the spread of this pollution. Grades 5+

This is Your Brain on Stereotypes by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, illustrated by Drew Shannon

The death of George Floyd, the incident at Central Park and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests that took place the world over gave rise to discussions about how harmful it can be to profile people. When we pigeonhole people according to the stereotypes we have been fed, the consequences can be very harmful. Award-winning author Tanya Lloyd Kyi’s book is a comprehensive introduction to the science behind stereotypes. Using the latest scientific research, Kyi delves into how stereotypes form from the time we’re very young. The book addresses the issues of discrimination, racism, sexism, ableism and homophobia and offers solutions about how we can keep our unconscious biases in check. Sidebars and colorful illustrations help make this book readable and an essential primer on this subject for young readers. Grades 6-9


Leena Desai