September 20

Indigenous Resources and #SSPBOY Book Pairings

A selection of book pairings, combining Indigenous resources with the Surrey School’s Picture Books of the Year as well as an extension title.

Gifts from the Trees:See also Solomon’s Tree – Spalding, Trees – Lemniscates, If You Hold a Seed – MacKay, Our Tree Named Steve – Zwiebel, Giving Tree – Silverstein


See also The Name Jar – Choi, Granny and I Get Traditional Names – Aleck, My Name is Yoon – Recordist, Sarabelya’s Thinking Cap – Schachner

Power of Real Friendship / Social Media

See also Goodnight Selfie – Menchin, Tood’s TV – Proimos, Doug Unplugged – Yaccarino, Nerdy Birdie Tweets – Reynolds, My Two Blankets – Kobold

Facing Fears / Discovering Inner Strengths

See also: The Elephant who was Scared – Elliot, Little Mouse’s Big Book Of Fears -Gravett, Super Manny Stands Up – Dipucchio, Strong is the New Pretty – Parker

Being Inspired

She Persisted -Clinton, Rad Women Worldwide -Schmaltz, Come With Me-McGee, Jars of Hope – Roy,

Respect for the Earth

I am Canada: A Celebration, If Sharks Disappeared – Williams, Owl Bat Bat Owl – Fitzpatrick, The Salmon Run – Gauthier

Sharing Our World

Salmon Run -Gauthier, Discover the Animals -Simeon, Peace Dancer -Vickers

Learning to Soar / Embracing Who You Are

Owl Bat Bat Owl – Fitzpatrick, I Like Who I Am – White, Yo Soi Muslim – Gonzales, Things To Do – Maglairo

Perspective: Familiar Things in New Ways / Empathy

The Sharing Circle – Larsen-Jonasson, Are You Empathetic – Yankee, Zoom In


Birthdays In Different Places – McNiven, Armond Goes to a Party – Carlson, Party – Ried, I’m Invited to a Party – Willems,




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September 14

Creating a Core Competency Kindness Quilt

As part of our start up Kindness theme, students in the Learning Commons thought about how to be kind and created a display to share their ideas. some classes used Doodle Buddy app to show their thinking.

Origami paper from the Dollar Store made for easy display.

Grade 2 student gives a refresher tutorial on the features of the app.

Our Kindness ideas inspired by The Kindness Quilt by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace


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September 10

Resources to promote discussion about Residential Schools #OrangeShirtDay

Our current and recently ordered resources to support discussion of Residential Schools in Canada. Synopsis provided by the publisher. Full list of Indigenous resources here.

The story of the beautiful relationship between a little girl and her grandfather. When she asks her grandfather how to say something in his language – Cree – he admits that his language was stolen from him when he was a boy. The little girl then sets out to help her grandfather find his language again. This sensitive and warmly illustrated picture book explores the intergenerational impact of the residential school system that separated young Indigenous children from their families. The story recognizes the pain of those whose culture and language were taken from them, how that pain is passed down, and how healing can also be shared.


Canada’s relationship with its Indigenous people has suffered as a result of both the residential school system and the lack of understanding of the historical and current impact of those schools. Healing and repairing that relationship requires education, awareness and increased understanding of the legacy and the impacts still being felt by Survivors and their families. Guided by acclaimed Indigenous author Monique Gray Smith, readers will learn about the lives of Survivors and listen to allies who are putting the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into action.


When a young girl helps tend to her grandmother’s garden, she begins to notice things that make her curious. Why does her grandmother have long, braided hair and beautifully colored clothing? Why does she speak another language and spend so much time with her family? As she asks her grandmother about these things, she is told about life in a residential school a long time ago, where all of these things were taken away. When We Were Alone is a story about a difficult time in history, and, ultimately, one of empowerment and strength.


When Irene is removed from her First Nations family to live in a residential school, she is confused, frightened and terribly homesick. She tries to remember who she is and where she came from despite being told to do otherwise. When she goes home for summer holidays, her parents decide never to send her away again, but where will she hide and what will happen when her parents disobey the law?


Secret Path is a ten song digital download album by Gord Downie with a graphic novel by illustrator Jeff Lemire that tells the story of Chanie “Charlie” Wenjack, a twelve-year-old boy who died in flight from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School fifty years ago. Chanie, misnamed Charlie by his teachers, was a young boy who died on October 22, 1966, walking the railroad tracks, trying to escape from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School to return home. Chanie’s home was 400 miles away. He didn’t know that. He didn’t know where it was, nor how to find it, but, like so many kids—more than anyone will be able to imagine—he tried.


A collection truly universal in its themes, Dreaming in Indian will shatter commonly held stereotypes about Native peoples and offers readers a unique insight into a community often misunderstood and misrepresented by the mainstream media. Whether addressing the effects of residential schools, calling out bullies through personal manifestos, or simply citing their hopes for the future, this book refuses to shy away from difficult topics. Insightful, thought-provoking, brutally and beautifully honest, this book is sure to appeal to young adults everywhere.


In just four days young Shi-shi-etko will have to leave her family and all that she knows to attend residential school. She spends her last days at home treasuring the beauty of her world — the dancing sunlight, the tall grass, each shiny rock, the tadpoles in the creek, her grandfather’s paddle song. Her mother, father and grandmother, each in turn, share valuable teachings that they want her to remember. And so Shi-shi-etko carefully gathers her memories for safekeeping.


When they arrive at school, Shi-shi-etko reminds Shinchi, her six-year-old brother, that they can only use their English names and that they can’t speak to each other. For Shinchi, life becomes an endless cycle of church mass, school, and work, punctuated by skimpy meals. He finds solace at the river, clutching a tiny cedar canoe, a gift from his father, and dreaming of the day when the salmon return to the river — a sign that it’s almost time to return home.


Canada’s residential school system for aboriginal young people is now recognized as a grievous historic wrong committed against First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples. This book documents this subject in a format that will give all young people access to this painful part of Canadian history.


Eight-year-old Margaret Pokiak has set her sights on learning to read, even though it means leaving her village in the high Arctic. Faced with unceasing pressure, her father finally agrees to let her make the five-day journey to attend school, but he warns Margaret of the terrors of residential schools. At school Margaret soon encounters the Raven, a black-cloaked nun with a hooked nose and bony fingers that resemble claws. She immediately dislikes the strong-willed young Margaret. Intending to humiliate her, the heartless Raven gives gray stockings to all the girls — all except Margaret, who gets red ones. In an instant Margaret is the laughingstock of the entire school. In the face of such cruelty, Margaret refuses to be intimidated and bravely gets rid of the stockings. Although a sympathetic nun stands up for Margaret, in the end it is this brave young girl who gives the Raven a lesson in the power of human dignity. Complemented by archival photos from Margaret Pokiak-Fenton’s collection and striking artworks from Liz Amini-Holmes, this inspiring first-person account of a plucky girl’s determination to confront her tormentor will linger with young readers.


Bestselling memoir Fatty Legs for younger readers. Olemaun is eight and knows a lot of things. But she does not know how to read. Ignoring her father’s warnings, she travels far from her Arctic home to the outsiders’ school to learn. The nuns at the school call her Margaret. They cut off her long hair and force her to do menial chores, but she remains undaunted. Her tenacity draws the attention of a black-cloaked nun who tries to break her spirit at every turn. But the young girl is more determined than ever to learn how to read. Based on the true story of Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, and complemented by stunning illustrations, When I Was Eight makes the bestselling Fatty Legs accessible to younger readers. Now they, too, can meet this remarkable girl who reminds us what power we hold when we can read.


No Time to Say Goodbye is a fictional account of five children sent to aboriginal boarding school, based on the recollections of a number of Tsartlip First Nations people. These unforgettable children are taken by government agents from Tsartlip Day School to live at Kuper Island Residential School. The five are isolated on the small island and life becomes regimented by the strict school routine. They experience the pain of homesickness and confusion while trying to adjust to a world completely different from their own.


Traveling to be reunited with her family in the arctic, 10-year-old Margaret Pokiak can hardly contain her excitement. It’s been two years since her parents delivered her to the school run by the dark-cloaked nuns and brothers. Coming ashore, Margaret spots her family, but her mother barely recognizes her, screaming, “Not my girl.” Margaret realizes she is now marked as an outsider. And Margaret is an outsider: she has forgotten the language and stories of her people, and she can’t even stomach the food her mother prepares. However, Margaret gradually relearns her language and her family’s way of living. Along the way, she discovers how important it is to remain true to the ways of her people—and to herself.


Margaret can’t wait to see her family, but her homecoming is not what she expected. Based on the true story of Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, and complemented by evocative illustrations, Not My Girl makes the original, award-winning memoir, A Stranger at Home, accessible to younger children. It is also a sequel to the picture book When I Was Eight. A poignant story of a determined young girl’s struggle to belong, it will both move and inspire readers everywhere.


Amik tells Moshoom about his wonderful school. Then his grandfather tells him about the residential school he went to, so different from Amik’s school, so Amik has an idea… The Seven Teaching of the Anishinaabe — love, wisdom, humility, courage, respect, honesty, and truth — are revealed in these seven stories for children. Set in an urban landscape with Indigenous children as the central characters, these stories about home and family will look familiar to all young readers.


At six years old, Seepeetza is taken from her happy family life on Joyaska Ranch to live as a boarder at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. Life at the school is not easy, but Seepeetza still manages to find some bright spots. Always, thoughts of home make her school life bearable.


Violet Pesheens is struggling to adjust to her new life at residential school. She misses her Grandma; she has run-ins with Cree girls; at her “white” school, everyone just stares; and everything she brought has been taken from her, including her name-she is now just a number. But worst of all, she has a fear. A fear of forgetting the things she treasures most: her Anishnabe language; the names of those she knew before; and her traditional customs. A fear of forgetting who she was.
Her notebook is the one place she can record all of her worries, and heartbreaks, and memories. And maybe, just maybe there will be hope at the end of the tunnel.
Drawing from her own experiences at residential school, Ruby Slipperjack creates a brave, yet heartbreaking heroine in Violet, and lets young readers glimpse into an all-too important chapter in our nation’s history.




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August 23

Resources for Discussing Social Justice in the Classroom

As we head back to school, it seems timely to share some important resources for generating classroom discussion on Social Justice and Empathy.

Titles cover topics ranging from discrimination, racism, human rights, diversity, gender identity, poverty, religion, refugees, residential schools, the differently abled.

Not an exhaustive list, these print titles are currently available in the Vanier collection. There are also eBooks available via the library catalogue.

Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged – Jody Warner

Giant Steps to Change the World – Spike Lee

I have the Right to be a Child – Alain Serres

Across the Alley- Richard Michelson

The Secret of the Dance- Andrea Spalding

Maddi’s Fridge – Lois Brandt

Last Stop on Market Street – Matt de la Pena

Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey – Margaret Ruurs

No Ordinary Day – Deborah Ellis

The Little Yellow Bottle – Angele Delaunois

We Are All Born Free – Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Malala / Iqubal – Jeanette Winter

I Have a Dream – Dr. M.L. King Jr.

Four Feet, Two Sandals – Karen Williams

I Am Not a Number – Jenny Dupuis

When I was Eight – Christy Jordan-Fenton

Fatty Legs – Christy Jordan-Fenton

When We Were Alone – Robertson / Flett

Shi-shi-etko – Nicola Campbell

*More Authentic Indigenous SEL Resources here

Noni Speaks UP – Heather Hartt-Sussman

Not Every Princess – Jeffrey Bone

Time to Stand Up and Speak Up – Bob Sornson

Accept and Value Each Person – Cheri Meiners

What Makes Us Unique? – Jillian Roberts

Red – Michael Hall

One World Together – Catherine

Say Something – Peggy Moss

To This Day – Shane Koyczan

The Invisible Boy – Trudy Ludwig

*More books on Kindness / Bullying and Social Emotional Learning here

The Other Boy – M.G. Hennessey

Rain Reign – Ann Martin

George – Alex Gino

Ninth Ward – Jewell Rhodes

Rules – Cynthia Lord

Number the Stars – Lois Lowry

Brave Girl – Michelle Markel

Click, Clack, Moo. Cows That Type – Doreen Cronin

Out of My Mind – Sharon Draper

Anne Frank (GN) – Jacobson. and Diary of Anne Frank

Wonder – R.J. Palacio

Breadwinner Trilogy – Deborah Ellis

Those Shoes – Maribeth Boelts

Each Kindness – Jacqueline Woodson

A Lond Walk to Water – Linda Sue Park

I Am Malala – Young Readers Edition – Malala Yousafzai

The Hundred Dresses – Eleanor Estes

Crenshaw – Katherine Applegate

The Case for Loving – Selina Alks

The Most Loved in all the World – Tonya Hegamin

Boys Without Names – Kashmira Sheth

Henry’s Freedom Box – Ellen Levine

Gray Wolf’s Search – Bruce Swanson (Valuing individuals)

I Like Who I Am – Tara White

Mahatma’s Story – Libby Gleeson

Wanting Mor – Rukhsana Khan

I am a Taxi – Deborah Ellis

No – David McPhail

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas – John Boyne

Rose Blanche – Roberto Innocenti 

The Choice – Kathy Clark

Azzi in Between – Sarah Garland

The Sky of Afghanistan

Children Growing Up with War – Jenny Matthews

Torn Apart : The internment diary of Mary Kobayashi

Dreaming In Indian, Contemporary Native American Voices (Stereotyping)

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

Hana’s Suitcase – Karen Levine

An Ocean Apart The Gold Mountain Diary of Chin Mei-ling

Underground to Canada – Barbara Smucker

Spirit Bear – Jennifer Harrington (Including others who are different)

The Boy Who Cried Fabulous- L. Newman

Mommy, Mama and Me – L. Newman

Jacob’s New Dress – Sarah Hoffman

10,000 Dresses – Marcus Ewert

I am Jazz – Jessica Herthel

A Family is a Family is a Family -Sara o’Leary

Stella Brings the Family – Miriam Schiffer

Worm Loves Worm – T.J. Austrian

As a Boy – Plan International

These Are My Words: The Residential School Diary of Violet Pesheens

The Water Princess – Susan Verde

Out – Angela George

Kokomo Girls – Clare Morneau

The Journey – Francesca Sanna

Adrift at Sea – Marsha Skrypuch and Tuan Ho

Shooting Kabul – N.H. Senzai

The Red Pencil – Andrea Pinkney

Seeking Refuge – Irene Watts



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August 14

Picture Book Resources to support Personal Awareness and Responsibility and Social Responsibility Core Competencies (2)

Many of these titles will work in multiple categories, out-of-print or hard to find titles excluded. All titles currently available the Vanier Collection.

*See also Indigenous Titles to Support Personal and Social Core Competencies (1)

*See complete list of SEL resources

Personal Awareness and Responsibility: Self-Determination

Students who are personally aware and responsible have a sense of personal efficacy and growing confidence in a variety of situations. They value themselves, their ideas, and their accomplishments. They are able to express their needs and seek help when they need it, to find purpose and motivation and act on it, and to advocate for themselves.

Fuchsia Fierce – Christianne Jones

Bounce Back: Resilience – Cheri Meiners

A Tiger Tale – Mike Boldt

As A Boy – Plan International

Hooray For You – Marianne Richmond

Happy In Our Skin – Fran Manushkin

There’s No Such Thing as Little – LeUyen Pham

You Be You / Only One You – Linda Kranz

Feel Confident – Cheri Meiners

I Like Myself – Karen Beaumont

What’s So Bad about being an Only Child? – Carl Best

Sometimes Just One is Just Right – Gayle Byrne

There – Louise Fitzpatrick

Willow Finds a Way – Lana Bolton

Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon – Patty Lovell

Giraffes Can’t Dance – Gles Andreae

The Dot – Peter Reynolds

The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes – Mark Pett

I Have a Little Problem, said the Bear – Heinz Janisch

The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do – Ashley Spires

It’s Okay to be Different – Todd Parr

We Are All Wonders – R.J. Palacio

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June 12

‘Only One You’ and ‘Everybody Needs a Rock’ Make a Perfect Pair

Students in Grade 4/5 shared Only One You by Linda Kranz and Everybody Needs a Rock by Byrd Baylor. Students sketched a draft picture of how they would like to show a part of their identity on a painted rock. During the next period, the rocks were painted and sprayed with lacquer.

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June 5

Indigenous Resources to Support Personal and Social Core Competencies

Vanier staff explored how Indigenous resources might support Social Emotional Learning Core Competencies in B.C.’s new curriculum. Focus was on Personal Awareness and Responsibility and Social Responsibility.

Titles were selected as authentic Indigenous sources or are resources selected and shared by the District Aboriginal Department. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list but rather to provide a window into how Indigenous titles may be used to reach school-wide SEL goals.

Indigenous perspectives have also been outlined as well as a final section on further supportive digital resources.1. Personal Awareness and Responsibility: Self-Determination

Students who are personally aware and responsible have a sense of personal efficacy and growing confidence in a variety of situations. They value themselves, their ideas, and their accomplishments. They are able to express their needs and seek help when they need it, to find purpose and motivation and act on it, and to advocate for themselves.

I can show a sense of accomplishment and joy. I can celebrate my efforts and accomplishments. I can advocate for myself and my ideas. I can imagine and work toward change in myself and world. I can take the initiative to inform myself about controversial issues.

When We Were Alone by David Alexander Robertson. 2016 Facing hardship and showing strength. Learning how to retain and advocate for one’s sense of identity.
Eaglet’s World by Evelyn White Minshull. 2014 Feeling proud of your accomplishments.
Red Parka Mary by Peter Eyvindson 2015 Celebrate efforts to overcome fears
The Moccasins by Earl Einarson. 2004 Feeling proud of your heritage
Under One Sun – Nelson 2017

What Do You Share?

We Help Each Other

I Do Good Things

(other titles available)

Being mindful to create change.
Spirit Bear by Jennifer Harrington 2014 Celebrating accomplishments. Determination to get back home.
Mwakwa Talks to the Loon by Dale Auger 2008 Change / growth in self. The qualities of service and humility.
Which Way Should I Go? By Sylvia Olsen Being mindful, Making good choices.
Little Bear’s Vision Quest by Sylvia Olsen Sense of change in self – thoughtless to thoughtful
Everybody Needs A Rock by Byrd Baylor Finding Connections between self and nature and use that knowledge to create personal meaning and change
What’s the Most Beautiful Thing about Horses? by Richard Van Camp / Georges Littlechild What’s the most beautiful thing you know about you?’
Raven Tales – 26 Graphic Novels Edited by D. Bouchard and D. Booth “These graphic novels are built on traditional stories that develop a sense of community, responsibility, respect and interconnectedness of life” Click here for individual story details.
Raven Tales – Teacher’s Guide Edited by D. Bouchard and D. Booth Recommended. Connects Raven Tales to First Nations cultures and other international and aboriginal cultures with similar stories. Story summaries. Delineated themes i.e. Living in Community, Respect…
Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox by Danielle Daniel Celebrating positive changes in emotions.
Dancing with the Cranes by Jeanette Armstrong / Ron Hall I can show a sense of joy. I can imagine and work toward change in myself and world.
Totem Tale, A Tall Story from Alaska by Deb Vanasse I can advocate for myself and my ideas
Seven Sacred Teachings Niizhwaaswi gagiikwewin by D. Bouchard and Dr. J. Martin Humility, Honesty, Respect, Courage, Wisdom, Truth, Love
I Like Who I Am by Tara White Celebrating my efforts and accomplishments, advocating for myself. Identity.
Sweetest Kulu by Celina Kalluk Believe in Yourself, Love, Help others, Be gentle, Be creative, Find joy, Be empowered, Be patient, Be kind
Sharing Our World: Animals of the Native Northwest Coast by Garfinkel Publications Celebrating strengths and accomplishments
My Heart Fills with Happiness by M.G. Smith Showing joy
Yetsa’s Sweater by Sylvia Olsen Showing a sense of accomplishment and joy. Celebrating efforts and accomplishments.
Dipnetting with Dad by Willie Sellars Showing a sense of accomplishment and joy. Celebrating efforts and accomplishments. The rewards of not giving up.
Cloudwalker by Roy Henry Vickers and Robert Budd Not giving up despite challenges Persevering to overcome adversity
Orca Chief by Roy Henry Vickers and Robert Budd Sense of accomplishment in learning new skills
Set of seven books by Katherena Vermette The Seven Teachings Stories are inspired by the Seven Sacred Teachings of the Anishinaabe—love, wisdom, humility, courage, respect, honesty, and truth. These stories are set in urban landscapes, Indigenous children tell familiar stories about home, school, and community.
When I was Eight by Christy Jordan-Fenton Determination to read, goal setting, over-coming adversity, joy of reading, goal of reading.
Not My Girl by Christy Jordan-Fenton Recognition of change in self, Aspiring to belong, Change takes time.
Gray Wolf’s Search by Bruce Swanson Celebrating effort and accomplishment
Thunder Boy Jr. by S. Alexie Celebrating accomplishments and advocate for myself. Imagine and work toward change.
Dreaming In Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices. Edited by L. Charleyboy and M.B. Leatherdale A visual example to acknowledge the diverse identities in a contemporary current context.
The Secret of Your Name by D. Bouchard Showing a sense of accomplishment and joy. Advocating for my ideas. Celebrating my efforts.

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April 29

Keeping the Literature in Maker Education

The Maker Movement can be a great way to approach literature study by using meaningful, high interest problem based and project based learning.   As Teacher-Librarians incorporate Maker Education activities into the Learning Commons, there are endless opportunities to use literature to facilitate this hands-on learning.

Reading can spark interest and provide context for projects in the same way that Maker activities can create enthusiasm for further literature explorations. It is not the case that designated time spent in the elementary Library Learning Commons must be either literature based or have a Maker focus. The two can be complimentary and interwoven.

Here are a few book titles and projects that might help to spark ideas:


Wondering if building a clear plastic green house might speed up bean germination? Does the shape or size of the structure affect the rate of growth? Using recycled materials such as clear plastic cartons or create a frame with popsicle sticks and kitchen wrap.

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February 23

K-2 lesson on hand washing and germs

This week every class K – 2  had a refresher lesson in the Learning Commons about health. Something about story time draws little ones to touch their faces. In an effort to remind students about hygiene we talked about germs, nose picking and hand washing. This is particularly important on the days we use the iPads, although we all share the books, door knobs, railings and table tops. We also took a look at some images of germs under a microscope.

We read ‘Sick Simon’ by Dan Krall which helps children visualize the germs and encourages them to understand how sickness can spread. We also sang along with a catchy little tune in a video called ‘ Picking Your Nose is Nasty’.

Other titles in the Vanier Library collection include:

Felicity Floo Visits the Zoo by E.S. Redmond

Germs are not for Sharing by Elizabeth Verdick

Sid the Science Kid: The Trouble with Germs

Keeping Clean by Honor Head

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