Books are magic. They can take you to new worlds and teach you new things. But how do you choose what book is right for you? Young readers who are just starting to read independently may feel particularly overwhelmed when to comes to discovering books. The Silver Birch Express category in the Forest of Reading program is specifically designed to target new independent readers. The category consists of ten different titles that are written in short sentences with simple plotlines. Here are two of my favourites from this year’s nominees:
Crimson Twill: Witch in the City by Kallie George
Crimson Twill has five gold coins to spend. There is no cooler place to shop than Broomingdales! It has everything trendy witches need, including cauldrons, cats and press-on warts. But Crimson’s looking for something unique. She’s got her own style. She doesn’t wear pointy shoes and black hats like the other witches. She dresses in bright colours to match her name.
While shopping she finds some interesting things: a magic cleaning broom, a puppy named Pepper and a timid girl named Mauve. Crimson discovers there might be some really cool things at Broomingdales that gold coins can’t buy!
This is great book for children who are just starting to read chapter books. It is not text heavy, and most pages have illustrations to aid reading comprehension. The story is character driven, and not plot focused so readers can take their time with the words and not have the pressure of having to follow a complex conflict.
Tâpwê and the Magic Hat by Buffy Sainte-Marie
Wapos is the Trickster. Some people call him Rabbit. He’s a cunning animal who loves to cause mischief. Sometimes he switches babies in their blankets. Sometimes he steals frybread and replaces it with horsebuns. He causes chaos wherever he goes. Stories of Wapos have been told for generations.
Tapwe is a young boy. He has a magic hat. It’s made of feathers and porcupine quills. Grass snakes and tiny birds live on top. At first, Tapwe thinks they are toys. But before long, Tapwe discovers they are real. His kohkom (grandmother) tells him stories about the magic hat. She gives him some very important advice: watch out for tricksters.
One day, while visiting relatives across the valley, Tapwe runs into Wapos. Charmed by his outgoing nature, Tapwe forgots his kohhom’s advice. He plays with Wapos, even though he knows it is wrong. Wapos convinces Tapwe to do some unkind things. Eventually, he is forced to face the consequences of this actions. Tapwe learns valuable life lessons about kindness and friendship.
This story explores Cree folklore, songs and traditions. It is a great introduction to Cree storytelling. The Trickster appears in many Indigenous tales – although sometimes in different forms.
Check out the rest of the 2023 Silver Birch Express nominees below.
- Alina in a Pinch by Shenaaz Nanji
- Bear in the Family by Eric Walters and Illustrated by Olga Barinova
- Flipping Forward and Twisting Backward Alma Fullerton and Illustrated by Sarah Mensinga
- Kaleidoscope of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life: Their Colors and Patterns Explained by Greer Stothers
- Pink, Blue, and You! Questions for Kids about Gender Stereotypes by Elise Gravel with Mykaell Blais
- The Strangest Thing in the Sea: And Other Curious Creatures of the Deep by Rachel Poliquin and Illustrated by Byron Eggenschwiler
- This is What I’ve Been Told: Mii yi gaa-bi-wiindmaagooyaan by Juliana Armstrong
- Who’s Looking? How Animals See the World by Carol Matas and Illustrated by Cornelia Li