This is the third installment in our annual holiday book recommendations blog series. Each year we have so much fun thinking about the books to recommend for gifts or for putting on your own to-be-read list. You can check out part one here and part two here.
You Come from the Stars by Tanya Snow
The book I’d like to gift this year is You Come from the Stars, written by Tanya Snow and illustrated by Yong Ling Kang. I love to gift books written by northern authors to friends with children. I think You Come from the Stars is going to quickly become a favourite.
You Come from the Stars starts with the question “How did I get in your belly?”. Through the book the mother reflects on her story of motherhood, using Inuit naming practices to honour family members, and all the ways a child is loved even before they come into this world.
King Warrior by Jay Bulckaert, Erika Nyyssonen and Lucas Green
I recently won this book as a door prize at Northwords NWT’s Silent Reading Party and am looking forward to reading it over the holiday break. This graphic novel follows Awale, a father from Somalia, who moves to Yellowknife to work as a taxi driver. To connect with his wife and son back home, he creates an imaginary world for them to be in together. I am not usually quick to choose a graphic novel, so I am excited to try this new area of books!
Daughters of the Deer by Algonquin-Canadian Danielle Daniel
This powerful emotional story is set in 1657. It begins with the life of Marie, an Algonquin woman who is living during a time when her people are threatened by disease, starvation, other tribes and the influx of French settlers and colonialism. Her people are forced to choose allies in order to survive. The story follows the life of Marie, her French husband Pierre, and her two-spirited daughter Jeanne. Poignantly told, this unforgettable story stretches back through time to unearth the long complex history of injustice against Indigenous women and the deliberate disruption of First Nations cultures and traditions by settlers.
Because I’m Your Dad by Ahmet Zeppa
This book is my kids’ most favorite book to read with their dad. They always come up with many different ideas to add on to the story. Because I’m Your Dad brings a lot of joy, silliness and sweetness that a dad can share with children. The text is both playful and loving, and the illustrations include a funny little monster. I am always happy to see my kids and husband being silly and fun and learning together. The story gets you thinking and learning a lot. Children learn what to think and believe, what’s important and what’s not, and ten thousand other things from their fathers. Teaching your children isn’t just curriculum and memory work, and working up a lesson for a family devotion. It’s walking with them, having fun, and showing them how much you love them and how to live with great memories.
Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown
This was the first book I read in 2023, and I still find myself thinking back to it from time to time. It was a great book for someone with a beginner-level interest in emotional nuance.
I liked the “atlas/map” analogy. It highlighted how, as with these wayfinding tools, orienting ourselves emotionally relies heavily on understanding what other similar or different emotions are out there, and how close or far we feel from them. For example, we have a better understanding of happiness when we know it in comparison to sadness; or maybe we are feeling emotions that are “located” closer to each other, like feeling happy, accepted, and confident.
The book proposes language as another important tool in the journey of navigating emotions. We are often quick to use umbrella emotions like happy, sad, or mad to describe how we feel. If we learn and use more emotionally-specific words (like optimistic, joyful, irritated, or disappointed) we can give more depth to our experiences, a helpful skill when relating with others.
In addition to the gorgeous photos throughout this book, I really appreciated the “Places to go when…” at the start of each section. This was a helpful reminder to think of emotions as different places to travel to and explore, rather than a singular, permanent destination.
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
This holiday season, I hope to relax and indulge in a few cozy mysteries. However, I’ve also just purchased Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. This book is set in 1960s California and tells the tale of Elizabeth Zott, a chemist who becomes the star of a TV cooking show. The reviews state that the book is laugh-out-loud funny, while also dealing with gender discrimination and gender roles, topics that are still relevant today.
Shubeik Lubeik by Deena Mohamed
In Arabic, Shubeik Lubeik means “your wish is my command.” If I could make a wish, it would be that I could read this book again for the first time! I enjoyed every moment of my time in Mohamed's alternate universe, centered in contemporary Cairo. Three characters maneuver their way through the realities of modern day Cairo with a twist: the magic of a wish! I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves graphic novels, alternative history and a little bit of magic!
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