25 Books to Help Children Love Language

Children start learning to read as soon as they start learning language

The more science studies the question, the more strongly it concludes that for us to become readers, we must first be observers or listeners. As we develop our oral language skills, we are also developing literacy.

In that sense, children start learning to read as soon as they start learning language, pretty much as soon as they are born. And to get children to listen or observe, you have to get them interested. The best way to do that is with story.

Reading to children has become an essential part of their language development. We’ve put together this list of 25 books that will help your children learn to love language, be it English, French or Gaelic:

The Ice Shack /
La cabane
Katia Canciani
Breakwater Books / Bouton d’or Acadie

The most beautiful ice-fishing shack on the whole coast belongs to Alphonse. But he can’t seem to catch a single thing—not even a sock, or an old pair of underwear! So how will he ever win the Best Fisherman Contest?

Broken Crayons
Patsy Dingwall
Illustrated by Marla Lesage
Acorn Press

Ms. Gillis is eager to share her newly-acquired teaching skills with children in Kenya. She arrives laden with gifts and school supplies from friends on PEI. As she distributes a gift of crayons to her students, she soon realizes that she is the one who has the most to learn. Broken Crayons is a delightful story written for school age children. It is a based on a true story that never grows old and one which carries a message for all, no matter your age.

What If?
Loretta Groenendyk
Acorn Press

What If? Is a humour-filled, edgy, tender picture book that portrays what it feels like to have anxiety and responds to it with the potential of whimsy and joy. Doretta Groenendyk’s new book takes the young, worried child to journey through layered images of panic and into the delight of possibility.

Where Are You, Puffling?
Erika McGann
Boulder Books

A puffling has gone in search of adventure – now her parents can’t find her anywhere! Can the animals of Bird Rock help them find their little puffling?

Samuel et La Tuque de Noel
Art Richard
Bouton d’or Acadie

Samuel is busy making snow angels when three snowflakes offer him the chance to become one of Santa’s elves. But Samuel is just a normal boy. How could he ever be a brave elf? But then, he’s already done something courageous today.

Cher père noël, où est mon banjo?
David Myles
Bouton d’or Acadie

The celebrated holiday song from multi-talented and multiple-award-winning Halifax-based roots musician David Myles is now available as a bright and fun children’s picture book, and with a French translation by none other than the great Marie-Jo Thério. Young David writes frantic letters to Santa every year, requesting a banjo, but to no avail: “How does he miss / the one thing on my list / in the letter that I sent to him?” Follow the ups and downs of the holiday season with David, his furry friends, and his family, as he pines for his most-wished-for holiday gift.

Un monstre dans ma cuisine
Marie-France Comeau
Bouton d’or Acadie

Grandma Rosi said it: if you want a beautiful and delicious monster, you need some elbow grease! You have to mold the monster, knead it, attack it, hit it! And when it moves, when bubbles come out of its belly? Quick, flatten it down, you need to master your monster! And then? Heat, and a nice nap. Discover the best monster recipe in this new picturebook by storyteller Marie-France Comeau.

Sanita Fejzic & Alisa Arsenault
Bouton d’or Acadie

From the delivery room to the classroom, a woman whose motherhood is questioned explains: her son doesn’t have a father, but he’s got two moms. She is the other mother. A (m)other, but there was only room for one on the birth certificate. In the minds of some adults and kids, however, a father figure must be found. Adapted from a 2018 CBC Poetry Prize shortlisted poem, this book tells, with tenderness and accuracy, the difficulties that two-mom families face in being accepted for who they are: loving families.

G is for Gael / G comme Gael
Shelayne Hanson
illustrated by Etta Moffatt
Bradan Press

Fàilte means “welcome”—welcome to the world of Nova Scotia’s Gaelic culture! This book is a first step for children and adults looking to understand and connect with Gaelic history, culture, and identity in Nova Scotia. Through joyful illustrations and creative concepts, readers will have the opportunity to explore and celebrate what it means to be a Gael. The book is for children, teachers, parents, grandparents, and anyone who wants to learn more about Gaelic language and culture in Nova Scotia.

The Little Red Shed
Adam & Jennifer Young
Breakwater Books

Once upon a fine morning, a little shed awakens to discover she isn’t quite the same as she used to be. Uncertain and feeling as if she no longer fits in, she decides to leave home and sets out to sea. All alone on the wide, wide ocean, she meets an extraordinary new friend who sees how special she really is, and with newfound confidence, the little red shed returns home and inspires everyone to cherish their differences.

Follow the Goose Butt, Camelia Airheart!
Odette Barr, Colleen Landry & Beth Weatherbee
Chocolate River Publishing

Camelia Airheart is a loveable Canada Goose with a faulty Goose Positioning System. When she gets lost, she starts on a journey around New Brunswick that will take her to meet a humpback whale in the Bay of Fundy, a herring gull on Grand Manan, a sandpiper/sanderling flock at the Hopewell Rocks, a lobster on the Acadian Pennisula, a moose and a chickadee on Mount Carleton, a deer near the Hartland Covered Bridge, and a beaver near Mactaquac. The language is rich; the situations are comical and the illustrations are enchanting.

Follow the Goose Butt to Nova Scotia
Odette Barr, Colleen Landry & Beth Weatherbee
Chocolate River Publishing

This time Camelia travels throughout the province of Nova Scotia with her eccentric Aunt, a photojournalist with the CGBC (Canada Goose Broadcasting Corporation). While Aunt Tillie gathers stories of interest, Camelia meets many new friends including Spike the Cape D’Or porcupine, Piper the spring peeper from Kejimkujik, Larry the leatherback turtle, Cindy Crowsby the famous hockey player and Willow the bookworm donkey. A host of other colourful characters entertain them and offer maritime hospitality.

A Newfoundland Maple
Samantha Baker
Flanker Press

While on a fishing trip with his grandfather in western Newfoundland, Daniel discovers a maple tree that has stood there for decades. What he doesn’t realize is just how important it is to the local wildlife. Squirrels, moose, beavers, birds, and more rely on the tree for food and shelter. Throughout the pages of this delightful book, find out which creatures visit across the four seasons and learn how just one tree can make a difference.

A Great Big Night
Kate Inglis
Nimbus Publishing

Kate Inglis’s playful and inventive language and Josée Bisaillon’s rich and textured illustrations bring to life this happy group of friends filling the great green forest with their music. A wonderful testament to community-building, music-making, and friendship.

Wild Pond Hockey
Jeffrey Domm
Nimbus Publishing

When two ravens excitedly chisel away at a piece of ice on a frozen pond, a curious wolf pack approaches to investigate. They step onto the slippery ice and scare off the birds. But the chunk of ice flies between the wolves, who soon start passing the “puck” back and forth. The game is on! Playfully deking and diving with the ravens cheering them on, the wolves slip and slide in a game of wild pond hockey.

Footsteps in Bay de Verde
Charis Cotter
Running the Goat

One stormy night the talk is not only about the price of fish, ghosts and pirates, but also about Poor Keye, a neighbour in hospital who had always loved these storied nights. A loud bang and the sound of his familiar shuffling footsteps suggests that perhaps he is home after all, and has come to join the gathering. But when Bridie’s mother goes to welcome him, Poor Keye is nowhere to be found.

M is for Murals
Trudy Stuckless
Flanker Press

Through cheerful rhyme and colourful imagery, M is for Murals tells the story of Botwood’s murals, the artists who painted them, and the seaport town in Newfoundland and Labrador that supported their creations. This alphabet storybook is designed to be read aloud to children while engaging them in the rich provincial history the artwork portrays.

The Boy Who Moved Christmas
Eric Walters and Nicole Wellwood
illustrated by Carole Liu
Nimbus Publishing

It’s October, but in seven-year-old Evan’s town, every house is decorated for Christmas and a giant holiday parade is about to begin. The bump in Evan’s head means he might not make it to December, so all his friends, family, neighbours, and thousands of strangers have moved Christmas just for him. Based on the true story of Evan Leversage and featuring an afterword by his mother, Nicole Wellwood, The Boy who Moved Christmas is a loving tribute from the duo behind Always With You, and a touching reminder of the power of the Christmas spirit—no matter what time of year.

Making Choices
Barbara Williams
illustrated by Bob Doucet
Curriculum Plus Publishing

Andrew was hoping that the surprise from his auntwould be the shiny, new mountain bike he had seenwith her in a sports store during a summer visit. But the surprise turns out to be a dog named Blue. Andrewis tired of adults making decisions for him. He rejectsthe dog and is determined even more to make his ownchoices.

L’alphabet de Viola Desmond
Lisa MacKenzie
Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute

This beautifully illustrated book was written by students for students. It offers a unique and thoughtful portrayal of Viola’s story. L’alphabet de Viola Desmond was written and illustrated by students from grades 3 and 4 at École Chebucto Heights under the tutelage of teachers Lisa Radzikowski and Molly MacKenzie. Dr. Wanda Robson, Viola’s “baby” sister, provided comment and oversight.

Mahtoquehs’ Journey
Braelyn Cyr
Monster House Publishing

Mahtoquehs is heading to the Gathering – all on his own! His forest friends try to guide him, but each follow their own path. The salmon swims upstream, the owl flies above the trees, but how does the rabbit get to the Gathering? Mahtoqehs needs the help of the four sacred medicines, so he can perform his special dance for all the creatures of the Gathering! Mahtoqehs’ Journey is an easy, fun way to teach the traditional values of the Wolastoqiyik peoples – for Indigenous and non-Indigenous children alike.

The River Fiddlers
Ron Caldwell
illustrated by Bennie Allain
Monster House Publishing

A new children’s book about the Old Canoe Maker and The Fiddle Man. How they met, and how from that meeting the legendary Fiddlers on The Tobique Festival came to be. Brought to life by the whimsical and folky illustrations of Ben Allain, written by Ron Caldwell.

Mr. Beagle Goes to Rabbittown
Lori Doody
Running the Goat

When Mr. Beagle moves to Rabbittown, his new neighbours aren’t sure what to make of him. Everyone else is a rabbit, after all. But then mittens start to go missing, and no one knows where they might be. Who better than Mr. Beagle to sniff out the culprit! With quirky, charming illustrations and sweet, simple text, Mr. Beagle Goes to Rabbittown celebrates how one finds a space in a new place, and the warm embrace of community. A picture book full of fun, with a bit of mystery, too.

The Wall and the Wind
Veselina Tomova
Running the Goat

In the middle of the twentieth century, in the middle of Eastern Europe, a young girl dreams of adventures far and near. One day, a huge wall appears that separates East from West, and dreamer from dreams. No ladder is high enough, no tunnel deep enough to get past that wall. But then a crack appears in the wall, and the girl (now a woman) knows she has the chance to follow her dreams again.

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