Finding Canadian authors to read in class can sometimes be challenging as they are not always as widely publicized as some other authors.
If we want our students to become well-rounded readers, we need to expose them to a variety of authors. This variety of authors gives students exposure to different writing styles and topics.
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Reading a variety of Canadian authors is important for many reasons:
- We can gain a better understanding of Canadian society by reading about the perspectives, cultures, and experiences the author writes about.
- It helps us learn more about the history of Canada.
- We can learn more about the variety of perspectives and voices that are part of this country.
- It helps us appreciate the literary contributions of Canadian authors (e.g., Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale was made into a widely enjoyed television series).
- By reading Canadian authors, we can increase our knowledge of Canadian culture. I really enjoyed reading the novel Every Summer After by Carley Fortune as it was set in my home province of Ontario. Also, reading works by Lucy Maud Montgomery helps me appreciate life in historical Canada.
Canadian authors have written a lot of great books. 6 teachers have gotten together to recommend different Canadian authors to read in class. These authors would be suited for either middle school or high school classrooms, depending on the content of the novel.
6 Canadian Authors to Read in Class
It is important to ensure the books you read in your classroom are from a variety of authors. If you teach in Canada, it is very important to highlight Canadian authors where possible.
Kristy from 2 Peas and a Dog loves to introduce her middle school students to books by Eric Walters. Eric is a former teacher who truly understands the importance of getting kids to read. His books are written about topical themes such as 9/11, the pandemic, racism and teen life. He writes regular-length fiction books as well as shorter easy to read high-interest low vocabulary books.
Students have enjoyed reading The Rule Of Three, Walking Home, Innocent, Wounded and The Bully Boys. The Bully Boys is a novel set during the War of 1812, which makes it a great cross-curricular novel to use if you also teach Canadian history. Check out this list of other great middle school books for your students. If you need novel study resources for any novel, check out this generic Novel Study Unit.
If you are looking for more fantastic Canadian authors to read in class, keep reading the rest of this blog post as more teachers have shared what authors their students love.
Lesa from SmithTeaches9to12 loves a good dystopian novel and so do her students so when Gutter Child hit shelves in 2021, it became a must-purchase for her classroom library.
Gutter Child is a coming-of-age story of a young girl in a social experiment where marginalized people have to work off their debt to escape the Gutter and (hopefully) gain access to the privileged world of the Mainland.
The story, as entertaining as it is, is also a critique of our world. As a result, the book would also be a great choice for a novel study unit or literature circles. Two things I really like to do with this novel–and most novels–are to work on students’ inference skills and to take a closer look at characterization. To practice inference skills, this free image-based activity works well for middle school and early high school. This FREE character profile activity can work for any novel and so too can this series of character activities.
Jael Richardson, in addition to releasing this debut novel, is the founder and Executive Director of the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD). You can check them out for other YA recommendations, plus workshops for teachers and aspiring writers young and old!
Marissa from Creative Classroom Core can hardly keep novels by Gordon Korman on her classroom shelves. A Canadian American born in Montreal, Korman is a prolific writer of more than 100 YA and children’s books. His first book, This Can’t be Happening at MacDonald Hall, was published when he was a freshman in high school. His books are fast-moving and known for engaging young readers from the very first page – just the kind of books that we all want to introduce to our students!
Some classroom favourites include Restart, the Island series, and Ungifted, but you really can’t go wrong with any of the novels by this high-interest writer.
If you are looking for a novel study to go along with one of Korman’s books, be sure to check this one out. If you are looking for ways to beef up your student book selections, check out these tips on building your own high-interest classroom library.
Richard Wagamese is another recommendation for Canadian authors to read in class.
Richard Wagamese was an author and journalist from the Wabaseemoong Independent Nations in Northwestern Ontario who spent his early life in foster care after being abandoned by his parents and later adopted by a family who forbade him from connecting with his First Nations culture or identity. He left home at 16, yearning to reconnect with his heritage, and spent some time homeless, seeking refuge inside the public library.
This refuge eventually became a different kind of salvation as Wagamese read as many books as he could to educate himself with the help of one particular librarian, who brought bagged lunches every day to feed him. Later in life, after Wagamese had become an award-winning journalist, he invited that same librarian and her family when he won a national newspaper award.
Katie from Mochas and Markbooks was lucky enough to hear this moving account of Wagamese’s life from the man himself when she attended a conference where he was a keynote speaker. Having the opportunity to speak to Wagamese after, Katie let him know how much his writing meant to her students and how they loved the short story, The Animal People Choose a Leader, a legend in which Wagamese tells the tale of the animal people understanding what it truly means to be a leader. Wagamese said that when he visited schools, that was the story he always enjoyed sharing.
To check out a visualization activity that Katie paired with this short story, visit this post.
Thomas King is well-known for his writing, his activism, and his involvement in Canadian politics. What you may not know about him is that he was actually born in the United States! King’s coalescence with Canadian society is just one of the reasons why Daina from Mondays Made Easy loves to introduce his work to students.
King immigrated to Lethbridge, Alberta, while he was completing his degree in Native Studies. King considers his time in Lethbridge as the first time in his life when he really felt as though he was “home;” he became a Canadian citizen, married his wife, and began to work with several noteworthy writers.
Since then, King has been nominated for several achievements and has received many awards, including the McNally Robinson Award (2005) and the Governor General’s Award (2014). In 2003, he was the first Indigenous person to deliver the Massey Lectures – an annual event led by acclaimed writers that explore contemporary issues.
In 2004, King was named a Member of the Order of Canada, a fellowship that recognizes noteworthy Canadians who have contributed to Canadian society and culture in impactful ways.
“Borders” by Thomas King is a short story that examines Indigenous resilience, identity and citizenship, generational differences, and policing of First Nations people. This short story has also been published as a graphic novel, which serves as a great addition to any Canadian classroom.
To explore this short story as a unit with your students, check out this unit study; it includes an author biography for Thomas King and an expository writing assignment to help students prepare for the Ontario Literacy Test (OSSLT).
Each year, the school where the Brain Ninjas co-teach hosts a reading competition where eight different new books are read and voted on by students. The book Missing by Kelley Armstrong caused such a stir that the school librarian had to buy ten copies of the book just to keep up with demand.
Armstrong, originally from Sudbury, Ontario, is mainly known for her fantasy books written for adults. In fact, her Women of the Otherworld series was turned into a Canadian television series called Bitten that ran for three years.
Students love the Nadia Stafford Crime Trilogy along with her stand-alone young adult novels. The plots focus on mystery and suspense with realistic and relatable characters. Her books make great read-alouds (though there is a little language for the more mature readers).
If you have kids with a love of true crime or mystery, these books will keep them engaged for weeks! Teachers have used them as book selections in their book clubs. Learn more about running book clubs in this post, Give Your Reading Instruction an Easy Twist.
You now have 6 great recommendations of Canadian authors to read in class with your students.
If you are looking for additional Canadian authors to read in class or just for yourself to read, check out these book lists.