Canadian History Through Read Alouds

Books can be an excellent way to teach history.  There are many positive aspects of using read alouds. This method allows you to teach a wide range of children all at once. Read alouds also engage your students in conversation. A living books are better than textbooks. They help your children put themselves into a time or place in history. There are many books out there on Canadian history. Let’s look at a short list today.

Canadian History Through Picture Books

Shi-Shi-etko by Nicola Campbell is based on true events. It describes the last days before a child leaves for a residential school.

Meet Terry Fox by Elizabeth MacLeod tells the story of one of Canada’s heroes. This books shares his legendary Marathon of Hope across Canada as well as how this legacy continues today.

The Charter for Children series by Dustin Milligan explains the different principles of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This awesomes series describes the principles in a way children can understand.  Each book is set in a different province or territory and addresses a different right or freedom.

A Prairie Boy’s Summer by William Kurelek is filled with beautiful pictures. It describes the hard work that life on the prairie entailed during the Depression.

A Prairie Boy’s Winter by William Kurelek is the same as the above but during winter.

I Am Not a Number by Dr. Jenny Kay Dupuis tells the story of a young girl removed from her First Nation family to attend a residential school.  When the girl returns home for the summer, her parents decide not to send her back.  The story shows the fear of where she can hide if they choose to disobey.

As Long as the River Flows by Larry Loyie tells of a First Nation’s family last summer together before the boy goes to residential school.

Canadian History Through Read Alouds

Canadian History Through Chapter Books

Dear Canada is a large series written by various authors.  These books are written in journal form and cover many parts of Canadian history.

Gold Rush Fever by Barbara Greenwood tells about two teenage boys who trek to the Yukon to take part in the Gold Rush.

Canadian Flyer Adventures series by Frieda Wishinsky is a fictional series. Two children use their sled to go back in time to visit different times in Canadian history.  If your child is familiar with The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls series, this is similar.  These are shorter chapter books that are great for younger readers.

Lost in the Barrens by Farley Mowat Is about an indigenous boy and a Canadian orphan boy who get lost in the Canadian wilderness and need to use their ingenuity to survive.

The Incredible Adventures of Louis Riel (Jr. edition):  Canada’s Most Famous Revolutionary

Our Canadian Girl series by various authors describes fictional characters experiencing important events in Canadian history such as the Halifax explosion and smallpox.

Prairie Fire by Bill Freeman (and others in the Bain’s series) tell of the Bain’s family and their travels across Canada (east to west) in the 1800s in search of a better life.  This is the 7th book in the series.

Tales from Gold Mountain by Paul Yee is a book of 8 short stories. These stories describe the experience of Chinese people during the Canadian Gold Rush.

Good For Nothing by Michel Noel is a book about a teenage boy who returns to his reserve in 1959 after being kicked out of residential school.  The book tells about his life on the reserve, how he needs to rediscover who he is, and the death of his parents.  (Recommended for older kids due to heavier content.)

This is just a small sample of the novels and picture books out there to teach Canadian history.  You can get more history teaching ideas from biographical books listed in The People of Canada’s Immigration Settlements and An Eclectic Collection of Biography Resources.

Due to the fact that not all history is happy, be sure to preview any book before reading it to your children.

Reading Challenge

Set your family a challenge of reading more books! Whether you want to focus upon Canadian history and living books or there is another topic or genre that interests you and your children, now is the perfect time to set goals and start reading. Author

This article has been written by homeschooling staff writers of The Canadian Schoolhouse (TCS) division of The Old Schoolhouse®.

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