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I can't say for anyone else, but because I had to bring home all of my teaching resources and materials this summer, I feel like I am positively drowing in books at the moment. I'm not complaining though, (even if some other family members are!) The only downside is not being able to find what I want as I try to create a few new resources for the next school year!

This post contains affiliate links, but they are all books I've owned, purchased for my school, read, or borrowed from someone to use with my own immersion students.

8 Picture Books for Social Studies (specifically for Ontario curriculum, but applicable elsewhere)


I figured I might like to share some, for different teaching purposes or for different types of classes. I plan to highlight others, if I can get back in the blogging habit. The set of resources that I'm currently working on getting added to my TeachersPayTeachers store is intended to share the learning progression that I created and used for my Grade 6 Social Studies course during emergency distance learning this past spring. For thsi reason, the picture books that I selected below seemed like an obvious place to start.

Please do your professional due diligence and use a trauma-informed lens when selecting something to explore with your students. Grouping them by interest (especially when teaching via remote learning or in a blended learning format) can be one way to allow certain students to use a resource they will absolutely love and benefit from, without subjecting all members of the class to the same material, if you have some that would be traumatized or disturbed by the content. Parental or family communication is a key part of this navigating this territory as well, in my humble opinion.

Pablo trouve un trésor

This is a long time favourite of mine. It makes me weep a tiny bit almost every time I share it with a class. It's a great introduction to the idea of "Les bidonvilles" for grade 8 Geography, but also equally well received when exploring various global issues with students in grade 6.

Pablo Trouve un Trésor book cover

Click the cover above to get it from Amazon. It's a lovely story, with somewhat of a happy ending, and a great way to start discussions about happiness, mindset and varying levels of quality of life. I also adore this this picture book is not a translation, so that means your students are unlikely to know this story unless you share it with them.


PowPow t'es mort

This is a picture book that might be used to discuss how, although many of our students might enjoy playing first person shooter games, this violence is far from a game to some other children living in the world - possibly even in our own communities - today.
Get it here from Amazon.

Voici Viola Desmond or La Détermination de Viola Desmond

Looking to introduce the topic of systemic discrimination based on race, specifically as it relates to Canada? The picture book Voici Viola Desmond is a gentle way to do so. I have a resource that I've made and used with my own students on multiple occasions which included discussion questions if you need some support with the planning. Check out the preview to give you a better idea if the materials will work for you!

Activities for Voici Viola Desmond

Get the picture book here from Amazon.

The second book I have listed covering this same Canadian is another - possibly simpler (less detailed about Viola's past accomplishments) but also a little less attractive to younger students - picture book option.
Get it here from Amazon.

Réfugié n'est pas mon nom

Unfortunately I bought this late in the winter and did not have a chance to use it with my students this year. But I thought it would be a perfect way to teach cross-curricularly and share the plight of refugees, highlighting that they are whole people with varied interests, hopes and dreams, rather than simple one group with a simple label.
Get it here from Amazon.

Une Petite bouteille jaune

This one was recommnded to me by a high school colleague (shout out to Elaine!), who I also convinced to nominate it for the FSLGRA. It has not been selected for that initiative yet though, through our voting process each spring. I feel like it could be used in grade 8 French Immersion, but might be too much for grade 6. Check it out and leave me your thoughts in the comments below, if you like!
Get it here from Amazon.

Le crayon magique de Malala or Malala: l'histoire de mon engagement pour le droit des filles

This inspiring young woman is so relatable, popular, and well known amongst middle school students. Either of these books are a sure winner in your Junior or Intermediate FSL classroom.


There are also tons of related teaching material for Malala to use, such as newspaper articles, short videos, and even texts like tweets or other social media posts.

La Princesse de l'eau claire or Les enfants de l'eau

 Cover image of La Princesse de l'eau claire
Cover image of Les enfants de l'eau

These are two beautiful little picture books to explain the importance of accessible drinking water to students, and how for children and women (typically) have to go, how hard they have to work for it in some parts of the world.

Nibi a soif, très soif

This is a great picture book to show students that access to potable drinking water is not just an issue in other countries, but also in our own! I tend to want to explore this book while teaching Strand A, and learning about accomplishments of various indigineous populations within Canada. I like to highlight success stories and to show them along with some background information about discrimination and systemic barriers, such as lack of access to things we take for granted as privileged Canadians.  

Get it here from Amazon.

I hope this has been helpful! I know I have other great books for Social Studies in my collection, so maybe I can add a part 2 eventually. Feel free to drop me suggestions (especially of francophone books that you have found and successfully used!) in the comments below!

 


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