Books to Help Lean into Learning

Well, another summer has come and gone. I hope you were able to spend your time making the most of the summer: Watching the ocean waves, visiting exciting places, meeting new people and, of course, reading plenty of books. But with the end of the summer comes a new school year; that can lead to all sorts of mixed feelings for our children. So this year, let’s strive to teach our children to be more accepting of others and more comfortable in their own skin. To help you, here are a few books that you can read with your children to start the conversation.

1. Frankie’s Favourite

This book might seem like an odd addition to a beginning of the year reading list, because Frankie’s Favourite Food by Kelsey Garrity-Riley (Tundra, 2019) is about an end of the year school play. However, this story is all about learning how to be happy and excited for others, how to solve problems creatively and how to embrace everything you love. The brightly coloured picture book starts by introducing us to Frankie, a young boy who loves ever kind of food so much that he can’t pick his favourite. This is a problem, because everyone is dressing up as their favourite food for the school play. If you’d like to see more of Riley’s work, you can here. 

2. The Most Magnificent Idea

- Advertisement -

While it’s not about traditional school learning, The Most Magnificent Idea by Ashley Spires (Kids Can Press, 2022) can help spark some ideas in your own children’s minds. In this tale, a young girl loves to make things and she always has a new idea about what to make. Until one day when she doesn’t. If you and your children can relate to that, don’t worry, the story doesn’t leave her there. It follows her along as she tries to find something that will give her brain the idea-creating boost it needs. Along the way she learns about perseverance, noticing the needs of others and problem solving—all of which are great skills to remember at the beginning of a new school year. For ages 4 to 7.

3. Tayra’s Not Talking

The summer is also a time when a lot of people move around, and your child might have a new child in their class (or they might be one). If that’s the case, than Tayra’s Not Talking by Lana Button and illustrated by Christine Battuz (Kids Can Press, 2022) is a good book for them. This book is told from the perspective of all of the other kids in Tayra’s class. This is such a smart idea on the author’s part because we get to see the kids’ thought processes as they struggle to understand, and include, the new girl Tayra because she won’t say anything. But as the book moves along, the classmates learn that it’s okay if Tayra isn’t vocal, because they can learn to communicate and include her in other ways. For ages 4 to 7.

4. Hiding In Plain Sight

If your children love learning and don’t want to stop when the school day ends, they may enjoy these next two books. The first is Elinor Wonders Why: Hiding in Plain Sight, which was created by Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson (Kids Can Press, 2022) and is based off of the TV show with the same name. This science-based graphic novel teaches children about camouflage using the game of hide-and-seek, so be prepared for them to get a bit better at the game if they read this book. The story also has discussion questions sprinkled throughout to keep your kids thinking and, if talking about it isn’t enough, there is an activity in the back that your kids can do to bring their new-found knowledge to life. For ages 5 to 8.

5. Poopy Science: A Gross Science Book

Finally, for children who love all things that are gross and yucky, you can try Poopy Science: Getting to the Bottom of What Comes Out Your Bottom by Edward Kay and illustrated by Mike Shiell (Kids Can Press, 2022). This non-fiction book is filled with all sorts of gross facts. If your children ever wondered how people in the past dealt with poop, if they want to know what paleo poop is (and where they can see the biggest paleo poop ever) or if they want to know why human poop and animal poop is different, this book is for them. For ages 7 to 10.

And there you have it, five books to help your children start their school year off right. I hope they all find themselves in classrooms with friends and teachers they can connect with, so they can learn, play and grow. Good luck everyone and have a great year!

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