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ABC Learning Books Are for Me

School is just about back in session—summer goes so fast, I know. And with the school year comes a whole assortment of emotions from excitement to fear. For this issue’s column, I’ve decided to look at fun books about learning so we can start the school year off right. And if your child struggles with anxiety, I have a book for that as well.

While you wouldn’t know it to look at my children, one of them struggles with anxiety a lot. So I have read many books about coping strategies; however, the strategies within them often feel like they’ve been plunked down on top of the story and not made a part of it. Olivia Wrapped in Vines by Maude Nepveu-Villeneuve and illustrated by Sandra Dumais (Ocra, 2022) is not like that. Nepveu-Villeneuve weaves the strategies into the tale so well that your child can learn them and still feel like they’re just reading a fun story. For ages 4 to 8.

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School can be a fun way to become introduced to lifelong passions. For example, the book The Fossil Whisperer by Helaine Becker and illustrated by Sandra Dumais (Kids Can Press, 2022) shows how a school trip to the badlands in Alberta inspired Wendy Sloboda to get a job as a palaeontologist. Wendy is now known around the world as a fossil hunter and she even has a couple of dinosaurs named after her: the barrosopus slobodai and Wendiceratops. For ages 4 to 8.

Another woman whose career started as a childhood passion was Maria Mitchell. Laura Alary explores her story in The Astronomer Who Questioned Everything which was illustrated by Ellen Rooney (Kids Can Press, 2022). Maria loved to look at the stars as a child, and her father taught her how to use a sextant, metronome and chronometer, which was odd for a woman born in 1818. However, she didn’t let that stop her and when the King of Denmark offered a prize to the first person to discover a new comet she decided that it would be her. For ages 4 to 8.

In Emmy Noether: The Most Important Mathematician You’ve Never Heard Of by Helaine Becker and beautifully illustrated by Kari Rust (Kids Can Press, 2020), Becker explores Emmy’s biography. Emmy, who is Jewish, was born in 1882 in Germany and she loved math. Fortunately for her—and the rest of the world—her father was able to pull some strings so she could sit in (though not participate) in university courses when she was a young adult. How did this help others? Well it turns out that Albert Einstein had a problem. A problem so big that the greatest mathematical men of his age couldn’t figure out and they needed an out-of-the-box thinker to look at it in a different way. For ages 4 to 8.

The final book is not a storybook. It is a well-written textbook that is filled with stunning pictures. The Global Ocean by Rochelle Strauss and illustrated by Natasha Donovan (Citizen Kid, 2022) explores different aspects of the global ocean from currents and inhabitants, to pollution and warming waters. If your child wants to learn about the coast we live near and discover how that can help take care of it, this is a good book for you. For ages 8 to 12.

There you have it. Five books to help inspire your children and teach them to live with their vines as they begin their new adventure at school. I sincerely hope they all have a wonderful year that is filled with learning, laughter, and lifetime memories.

Christina Van Starkenberg
Christina Van Starkenberg
Christina Van Starkenburg lives in Victoria with her husband, children, and cat. She is the author of One Tiny Turtle: A Story You Can Colour and many articles. To read more of her work and learn about her upcoming books, check out her website at