NWT Literacy Council’s Holiday Book Picks, Part 2

NWT Literacy Council’s Holiday Book Picks, Part 2

Our staff love sharing book suggestions! Here is part 2 of our annual holiday book recommendations. You can check out part 1 here.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

The book that I’m recommending and gifting my daughter this holiday season is The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. This book is a prequel to the popular Hunger Games series that I got for my girls when they were in middle school. As a fan of the original series, they deeply enjoyed the adventure of this post-apocalyptic young adult fantasy. The author does a wonderful job world-building while having woven in perspectives on current issues in society such as power, privilege, exploitation, media portrayals and how people’s current actions can affect future generations.

Collins manages to keep the readers engaged with the vivid imagery and fascinating well-rounded characters. This book focuses on a young Coriolanus Snow, a man from the capital, trying to find his place in the world while becoming a mentor to Lucy Grey, a tribute from district 12. During this novel, the 10th Hunger Games takes place. We get to see how Coriolanus's unlikely friendship with Lucy starts to change him while he struggles to choose between the power he's always wanted or the freedom to be with Lucy. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a story that keeps you engaged and wanting more.  

  • Uma Sivakumar, Project Specialist: Family and Community Literacy


Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor

A fascinating and eye-opening, scientific, cultural, spiritual, and evolutionary account of the way humans breathe—and how the majority of the modern world is damaging their health by doing it all wrong! This book shocked me in so many ways and made me realize so many people around me are suffering unnecessarily all due to how they are breathing! James Nestor is a sportswriter and his style is engaging and entertaining, all while being incredibly well-researched. He takes us on his own personal journey with major health issues to uncover some alarming truths. No matter what you eat, how much you exercise, how fit, young, old, or wise you are, none of it matters if you’re not breathing properly. With simple changes in how we breathe, we can all live happier, healthier lives.

  • Christine Lewandowski-Shannon, Empowering Northern Youth Instructor


In the Wild: Stories of a Lifetime on the Trapline by Pi Kennedy and Patti-Kay Hamilton

This Christmas, I will be gifting In the Wild. Pi Kennedy trapped for over 80 years, almost exclusively by dog team. He is considered a legend in the Northwest Territories as a trapper who adopted humane trapping methods, a dog musher, a historian, and someone who valued and fought for the protection of animals and nature. My son loves being in the bush and I think he will really enjoy Kennedy’s renowned storytelling. This book is available in Yellowknife, just in time for Christmas!

  • Kathryn Barry Paddock, Executive Director


More than Words: So Many Ways to Say What we Mean by Roz MacLean

This is a great book for highlighting communication diversity and the need for a range of accessible communication options. It follows along with kids who may communicate with verbal words, writing, typing, braille, communication devices such as iPads or choice cards, sign language, dance and more. My daughter was excited to read this and see that there are a lot of people who communicate in their own way, just like her little brother who uses less verbal communication than others, but communicates in so many ways. I definitely recommend this book for every child to see representation of many communication styles, but especially if you have children in your life who may have questions about the ways that their peers communicate.

  • Katie Johnson, Program Director

Stolen by Ann-Helen Laestadius

In June 2017, Suzanne Robinson, former President of the NWT Literacy Council, and I had the good fortune to travel to Umea, Northern Sweden to deliver presentations at an international conference.

Umea is the land of the Sami reindeer herders. Everywhere we went, we were immersed in Sami culture. The book I’m currently reading is about that area of Sweden. It’s about nine-year-old Elsa, the daughter of reindeer herders, whose community is under threat from people who don’t understand Sami culture, from a government that wants mining on the land, and from people who poach reindeer. One day when Elsa goes skiing she sees a man killing a reindeer calf, but is afraid to tell anyone what she saw. Ten years later, what she saw comes back to haunt her as she fights to preserve her Indigenous heritage.

The author received an award for her first novel, a young adult novel called Ten Past One. This novel, Stolen, was named Sweden’s Book of the Year. It’s a fascinating story of a young Indigenous girl coming of age.

  • Helen Balanoff, Program Manager: Skills for Success



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