FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS: The Story of Hanukkah. This book, a retelling of the story of the first Hanukkah by Maida Silverman, is beautifully illustrated by Carolyn Ewing.  The retelling of story is traditional in Jewish culture, a time-honoured tradition that occurs with individual families often incorporating their own experiences into the fabric of the story. Ages 5 to 10

A NORTHERN ALPHABET by Ted Harrison - book of the alphabet using words illustrative of the Canadian North  . The illustrations are large, colorful and simply drawn. I AM NOT A NUMBER by Indigenous educator Dr. Jenny Kay and Kathy Kacer. This is another contribution to the work of Canadian Truth and Reconciliation, a picture book based on the experience of Irene Couchie Dupuis, grandmother to Jenny Kay Dupuis.

ANGELA AND THE BABY JESUS by Frank McCourt.  Six-year-old Angela worries that the Baby Jesus feels cold in the crèche at the church, so she devises a way to smuggle him home and warm him. Angela scolds him with empty threats: 'Baby Jesus, I have a good mind to leave you there in Mrs. Blake's backyard.' But she couldn't. If God found out, he'd never let her have a sweet or a bun for a whole week. More than anything, Angela cares deeply for Jesus' welfare & wants him to stay warm.   

 STEPPING STONES: a Refugee Family’s Journey by Margriet Ruurs , recounts in memorable artwork and text the plight of refugees from Syria, artist Nizar Ali Badr’s home.  This is the story of Rama, who recounts life in Syria, from the rooster crowing her family (Mama, Papa, grandfather Jedo and brother Sami) awake, and a breakfast of bread, yogurt and tomatoes, and memories of play and work, school and freedom.  But war comes, and there is insufficient food and there are bombings, and people begin to leave.  So too begins Rama’s family exodus, walking until they reach the sea, whereupon they “set sail on the waves of hope and prayer”, arriving on land where the gruelling trek begins again, until they arrive at their future, welcomed by neighbours who communicate with smiles and the sharing of clothes and food and more.

FROG GIRL by Paul Owen Lewis, who dips into the wealth of visual and mythic traditions of the Pacific Northwest coastal peoples to create a suspenseful original tale. Here, a chief's daughter witnesses two boys abducting all but one of the frogs in a nearby lake, and is led by the lone frog to a parallel world where she tells what she knows to the frog people's grandmother. Emerging to find that everyone has fled from an erupting volcano, the girl rescues the captive frogs and returns them to the lake.  Ages 4-10.  A portion of the book's proceeds will be donated to the Haida Gwaii Rediscovery program for tribal youth.

THE SOUND OF SILENCE by Katrina Goldsaito; illustrated by Julia Kuo.  Like a Zen koan, this story draws readers’ attention to silence, that vanishingly rare attribute of modern family life.  Yoshio sets off on his way to school through the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. Along the way he meets an elderly woman playing the koto, a traditional stringed instrument, who tells him that “the most beautiful sound” is in fact ma, or silence. Puzzling over this conundrum as he moves through his noise-filled day, Yoshio eventually becomes aware that silence is always there too, if only one learns how to notice it.   Ages 5-9

DO HARD THINGS: A TEENAGE REBELLION AGAINST LOW EXPECTATIONS by brothers Alex & Brett Harris.  In Do Hard Things, the Harris brothers attempt to "explode the myth of adolescence," and show that prior to the 20th century, a person was an adult or a child. The book challenges teenagers to go beyond their comfort zone, and, in essence, "do hard things."  The book comes highly recommended by both Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and Chuck Norris! Ages 10 - 16  

GLOBAL VOICES, Volume I. A few years ago, a series of depressing headlines made Craig and Marc Kielburger stop reading the newspaper. Then they made the mistake of saying this to their mentor, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He told them they were looking at it the wrong way. Instead, he said the newspaper was "God's to-do List”. Instead of seeing the headlines as insurmountable odds, they could choose to read them as challenges the world could overcome.

Global Voices tells the stories of people and issues from around the world, with discussion questions to help start the conversation.