May 23

Fun Summer Reading Recommendations Gr 2-3

Summer is almost here and it is important to encourage kids to continue to read all summer long.  This helps to prevent the “summer slide” which is when students lose about 20% of their reading gains over the summer months through lack of use.  These fun books will have your kids excited to read and it won’t feel like a chore.  And don’t forget to encourage them to participate in the first ever OJCS Summer Reading Challenge.  For more details about that click here.


Meet your favourite monsters, fairies, heroes, and tricksters from all around the world!

Enter the enchanting world of mythical creatures and explore the history behind them in this beautifully-illustrated Greek mythology book for children aged 5-9. You’ll meet an incredible cast of mind-boggling fictional animals from all around the world. Say hello to Bigfoot in the forests of North America and learn about the Native American traditions that inspired its story. Voyage to Japan to meet kitsune, supernatural nine-tailed foxes that can turn into humans. Then jump onboard an ancient storm-battered ship to learn why mermaids were the last thing a sailor wanted to see! Learn about the societies that spawned these legendary creatures, from Ancient Greece to the indigenous tribes of Australia, and find out what the beasts tell us about the people who created them.


Eerie Elementary is one scary school!

This series is part of Scholastic’s early chapter book line called Branches, which is aimed at newly independent readers. With easy-to-read text, high-interest content, fast-paced plots, and illustrations on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and stamina. Branches books help readers grow!In this first book in the series, Sam Graves discovers that his elementary school is ALIVE! Sam finds this out on his first day as the school hall monitor. Sam must defend himself and his fellow students against the evil school! Is Sam up to the challenge? He’ll find out soon enough: the class play is just around the corner. Sam teams up with friends Lucy and Antonio to stop this scary school before it’s too late!


From the award-winning author of A Boy Called Bat comes a new young middle grade series in the tradition of Ramona and Clementine, starring an unforgettable girl named Harriet.

There are a few things you should know about Harriet Wermer:

  • She just finished third grade.
  • She has a perfect cat named Matzo Ball.
  • She doesn’t always tell the truth.
  • She is very happy to be spending summer vacation away from home and her mom and dad and all the wonderful things she had been planning all year.

Okay, maybe that last one isn’t entirely the truth.

Of course, there’s nothing Harriet doesn’t like about Marble Island, the small island off the coast of California where her nanu runs a cozy little bed and breakfast. And nobody doesn’t love Moneypenny, Nanu’s old basset hound. But Harriet doesn’t like the fact that Dad made this decision without even asking her.

When Harriet arrives on Marble Island, however, she discovers that it’s full of surprises, and even a mystery. One that seems to involve her Dad, back when he was a young boy living on Marble Island. One that Harriet is absolutely going to solve. And that’s the truth.


Camping or Glamping?

Albert and Pickles are an unlikely pair of besties and they’re ready to explore the great outdoors for the first time. Albert is ready to camp the old-fashioned way while Pickles thinks he’s going to a five-star resort under the stars. Pickles is going to have to find a way to cope in the wilderness for one whole night, but luckily, Albert is there to assist in pitching a tent, cooking by the fire, and embracing the great outdoors.

While navigating their way through the rest of this camping trip, Albert and Pickles run into their old friend, Platters, who is in search of the Woolly Moon Beast—a legendary ferocious creature. Together, they must reunite a lost baby koala with its mama while this potentially dangerous predator looms large in the woods.


Perfect for fans of comical animal do-gooders like The Bad Guys, The InvestiGators, and The Chicken Squad, this hilarious chapter book series follows a group of bumbling dog detectives and their newest recruit—a cat! In this first case, the Underdogs are hot on the tail of a cat burglar.

Crime is on the rise in Dogtown, and it’s all thanks to a mysterious cat burglar! They’ve stolen everything from handbags to ham sandwiches, and nobody has been able to catch them. Now The Underdog Detective Agency is on the case . . . but as their name might suggest, they aren’t exactly the best sleuths in town.

Barkley and the other dogs at the agency have been in a bit of a slump, but this latest case could turn it all around. So to catch this menacing cat burglar, they may have to do the unthinkable and hire their first-ever cat detective. Enter Fang, a street-smart, one-eyed feline and the newest member of the team.

Being a cat in a dog’s world isn’t easy, but Fang is determined to prove she’s got what it takes. Will Fang and Barkley be able to work together to solve the case and help make Underdogs the top dogs once again? You’ll have to read to find out in this paws-itively hilarious mystery!


Grab your pickaxes and jump back into the action in this second installment of the Diary of an 8-Bit Warrior graphic novel series.

The pixelated adventures continue in this graphic novel adaptation of the bestselling Diary of an 8-Bit Warrior series! Readers can reconnect with their favorite characters and the beloved Minecraft universe while enjoying a colorfully illustrated story.

In this installment, Runt and his unusual crew—a friendly zombie, a loyal wolf, and a clumsy human—embark on a quest to defeat the ender dragon . . . if they can go five minutes without getting lost, that is. But if vanquishing a legendary boss monster weren’t a big enough challenge, along the way the gang learns of an even more mysterious enemy lurking just around the corner. The second installment of this graphic novel series will knock your blocks off!



Prince Lucas and Lady Clara team up with gnomes to give the jewels their luster back in this nineteenth fantastical adventure of The Kingdom of Wrenly series!

The gnomes of the Stone Forest are in trouble when all the gems in the forest lose their shine. It’s up to Prince Lucas and Lady Clara to find a way to help them!

With easy-to-read text and illustrations on almost every page, The Kingdom of Wrenly chapter books are perfect for beginning readers.



Experience the action-packed first book in #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson’s laugh-out-loud middle-grade fantasy series like never before—Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians is now in paperback with all new covers!


Everything I’d known about the world was a lie.

On my thirteenth birthday, I, Alcatraz Smedry (yes, I got named after a prison, don’t ask) received my inheritance: a bag of sand. And then I accidentally destroyed my foster parents’ kitchen. It’s not my fault, things just break around me, I swear!
I thought the sand was a joke until evil Librarians came to steal it. You’re probably thinking, “Librarians are nice people who recommend good books,” but that’s just what they want you to think! It turns out they’re actually a secret cult keeping the truth from you—a hidden world filled with magical eyeglasses, talking dinosaurs, and knights with crystal swords.  Or so my Grandpa Smedry claimed when he suddenly showed up to rescue me. So now I have to go with him to invade the local library and get that sand back, before it’s used to conquer the world. And Grandpa says how I keep breaking things is actually an amazing talent. There’s no way that can all be true, right?  Will I ever make it back home alive?


“A profound, realistic story of a multiracial family…This brilliantly written tale is a lovely introduction to the important topics of wildfires and animal sanctuaries for young readers. Great for animal lovers and children curious about nature.”—School Library Journal, starred review

On returning to their home after a massive wildfire, nine-year-old Jasmin and her seven-year-old brother, Hunter, thought the biggest surprise would be whether their fire-resistant house had survived.

Jasmin and Hunter did not expect to find an orphaned bear cub stuck in the neighbors’ well. Rescuing the tiny cub from the well was the easy part; now they need to care for it until the people from the bear-rescue sanctuary can make it safely through the fires to pick it up. The cub turns out to be exactly what one would expect of a wild animal—a huge handful!

The latest Orca Echoes early chapter book from award-winning author Eric Walters was inspired by Eric’s visit to a wildlife sanctuary in Northern British Columbia. Bear in the Family tells the fictionalized story of a bear cub found by a family after the forest surrounding their home was destroyed by a wildfire.


Ashley Spires brings her signature deadpan humor to this hilarious story about one bug’s quest for greatness (with some cool insect facts mixed in!).

Meet Burt, a ten-lined june beetle. He’s sure he belongs in the category of bugs with superpower-like abilities. No, he can’t carry 50 times his weight, like ants. No, he’s not able to spray paralyzing venom, like some termites. No, he can’t release a bad smell to repel predators, like stink bugs. What june beetles are known for is chasing porch lights and flailing their legs in the air — does that count? Hmm … Maybe Burt will just have to accept the truth. June beetles don’t have any special abilities. But when some other bugs find themselves in perilous trouble that even their superpowers can’t get them out of, Burt suddenly realizes there is one thing that he can do to save his friends — and it’s something that only a june beetle can do!

Bestselling author-illustrator Ashley Spires’s signature mix of slapstick and dry humor is front and center in this winning story that highlights how being special is as much about character as it is about abilities. Full of simply drawn panels prominently featuring the ever-plucky Burt, it’s a perfect pick for emerging readers and young fans of comics. Burt’s positive attitude toward himself and others offers many opportunities for character education lessons on caring, positive thinking and initiative. Snuck into the pages are facts about bugs and their traits, making this a fun choice for a science unit on the characteristics of living things.


When a scaredy-housecat is home alone for the first time, he and his furry friends are forced to face monsters and their fears on a quest to save the day. This middle-grade graphic novel series is filled with silly jokes, adventure, and a whole lot of fun.

One house, three cats, and a lot of trouble!

Buster has only one job: keep the house safe. Too bad he is a massive scaredy-cat. When his owner goes away and he suddenly finds his home filled with monsters, Buster has the biggest challenge he’s ever faced. Can he learn to be brave before his owner gets back?

In the first volume of a hijinks-filled graphic novel series, the colorful artwork and hilarious characters will keep you laughing until the very end.


A ghost and a kid team up to solve mysteries and do fun stuff! A hilarious new graphic novel series for fans of Bad Guys and Dog Man.

Welcome to the world of Simon and Chester, ghost and boy duo extraordinaire.
They don’t like chores.
They are best friends.
And they are about to solve the MYSTERY OF A LIFETIME.
(Oh, and eat some snacks probably.)

Join Simon and Chester in their first adventure, and fall in love with this hilarious odd couple by fan favorite author and illustrator Cale Atkinson.


From No. 1 bestselling children’s author David Walliams comes his biggest and most epic adventure! Illustrated by the artistic genius Tony Ross.
This is the story of a ten-year-old orphan and a 10,000-year-old mammoth…






Being a Moth Keeper is a huge responsibility and a great honor, but what happens when the new Moth Keeper decides to take a break from the moon and see the sun for the first time? From the author of the beloved Tea Dragon Society comes a must-read for fans of the rich fantasies of Hayao Miyazaki and the magical adventures of Witch Hat Atelier.

Anya is finally a Moth Keeper, the protector of the lunar moths that allow the Night-Lily flower to bloom once a year. Her village needs the flower to continue thriving and Anya is excited to prove her worth and show her thanks to her friends with her actions, but what happens when being a Moth Keeper isn’t exactly what Anya thought it would be?

Night after night, it is lonely in the desert, with only one lantern for light. Still, Anya is eager to prove her worth, to show her thanks to her friends and her village. But is it worth the cost? And yet something isn’t right. When Anya glimpses the one thing that could destroy what she’s meant to protect, her village and the lunar moths are left to deal with the consequences.

K. O’Neill brings to life a beautifully illustrated fantasy with lush, gorgeous art and intricate world-building. A story about coming of age and community, The Moth Keeper is filled with magic, hope, and friendship.

From New York Times bestselling author Eoin Colfer and the team behind the Artemis Fowl graphic novels and bestselling, acclaimed graphic novel Illegal comes a compelling and timely story that follows two courageous children as they face the effects of climate change.

Time is running out for Sami and Yuki.

Sami and his grandfather live in a village along the Indian Ocean. They earn their living by fishing. But the ocean is rising and each day they bring back fewer and fewer fish.

Yuki lives in the far north of Canada where warming temperature are melting the ice. Polar bears have less food to hunt and are wandering into town looking for something to eat. Yuki is determined to do something to help the bears.


In her first novel since The One and Only Ivan, winner of the Newbery Medal, Katherine Applegate delivers an unforgettable and magical story about family, friendship, and resilience.

Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There’s no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again.

Crenshaw is a cat. He’s large, he’s outspoken, and he’s imaginary. He has come back into Jackson’s life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?

Beloved author Katherine Applegate proves in unexpected ways that friends matter, whether real or imaginary. This title has Common Core connections.


From the bestselling author of The Blackthorn Key series comes a thrilling Ocean’s Eleven-like heist story for young readers, now in trade paperback format. Five kids with unusual talents are brought together to commit an impossible crime. Failure is unacceptable . . . but success could be deadly.

A magic-infused fantasy that brings together a ragtag group of kids to pull off a crime so difficult, countless adults have already tried and failed. Lured by the promise of more money than they’ve ever dreamed of, five young criminals are hired to steal a heavily guarded treasure from the most powerful sorcerer in the city. There’s Callan the con artist, Meribel the expert at acrobatics (and knives!), Gareth the researcher, Lachlan who can obtain anything, and Foxtail, whose mysterious eyeless mask doesn’t hinder her ability to climb walls like a spider. Though their shadowy backgrounds mean that they’ve never trusted anyone but themselves, the five must learn to rely on each other in order to get the job done.

But as Callan has been warned most of his life, it’s best to stay away from magic. It can turn on you at any moment, and make you think you’re the one running the con game, when in reality you’re the one being fooled. Faced with these unsurmountable odds, can the new friends pull off this legendary heist, or has their luck finally run out?


Rachel Berger needs twenty-five cents to make her dream come true. But for Rachel, twenty-five cents is a fortune–and she’s running out of time.

A Sydney Taylor Book Award Notable Title

Third-grader Rachel Berger longs to be different. At the very least, she’d like to be set apart from her copycat little sister, Hannah. The second Rachel spots the glass rose buttons at Mr. Solomon’s button shop, her heart stops. They’ll be the perfect, unique touch on the skirt her mother is making her for Rosh Hashanah. There’s just one problem: Rachel can’t afford them. With her focus set on earning enough to buy them before the holiday, will Rachel lose sight of what’s really important?

Themes of sisterhood, sibling rivalry, and strong family values are organically woven in to this charmingly illustrated chapter book set on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the early twentieth century.

May 17

Fun Summer ’23 Reading Recommendations – JK to Gr 1

Summer is almost here and it is important to encourage kids to continue to read all summer long.  This helps to prevent the “summer slide” which is when students lose about 20% of their reading gains over the summer months through lack of use.  These fun books will have your kids excited to read and it won’t feel like a chore.  And don’t forget to encourage them to participate in the first ever OJCS Summer Reading Challenge.  For more details click here.  Other grade lists will be published in the coming weeks.

Our OJCS students absolutely loved the first book in this series ‘Creepy Carrots’.  These books are slightly spooky and very very funny!

Jasper Rabbit has a problem: he is NOT doing well in school. His spelling tests? Disasters. His math quizzes? Frightening to behold. But one day, he finds a crayon lying in the gutter. Purple. Pointy. Perfect. Somehow…it looked happy to see him. And it wants to help.

At first, Jasper is excited. Everything is going great. His spelling is fantastic. His math is stupendous. And best of all, he doesn’t have to do ANY work! But then the crayon starts acting weird. It’s everywhere, and it wants to do everything. And Jasper must find a way to get rid of it before it takes over his life. The only problem? The creepy crayon will not leave.


The brand-new picture book from superstar author and illustrator Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler is a riot of slapstick fun and silliness.

The Baddies are the meanest, nastiest ghost, witch and troll in the land. They just adore being bad, and fight over who is the worst. When a little girl moves into a nearby cottage, the Baddies can’t wait to scare her out of her wits. But the little girl quickly shows them that you don’t have to be big to be brave, and baddies don’t always win.



Journey through a magical woodland, with poems to read and things to find

My woodland’s full of animals,
of every different kind.
So shall we stay here for a while
and see what we can find?
Experience the everyday wonder of nature in this first book of poetry, exploring a magical woodland year. With poems by acclaimed writer Rachel Piercey, join Bear on his journey from spring to winter with lots of friends to meet, places to explore, and things to spot along the way.



Brave knights, fire-breathing dragons, and underwear – in this comical paperback picture book, one young knight takes on a mighty dragon to save the kingdom. With playful illustrations from the #1 New York Times bestselling artist of The Bad Seed!

Cole’s wish comes true when he becomes an Assistant Knight to Sir Percival, his favorite Knight of King Arthur’s Round Table. Cole learns how to ride a horse, swing a sword, cheer for Sir Percival when he goes to battle, and bandage his boo-boos when the battle is over. Cole loves practicing every skill a Knight-in-Training must master and he is determined to be granted knighthood.
Sir Percival is a great knight in every way, except for one thing: He is terrified that an Underwear Dragon will come and destroy the kingdom. But when the unthinkable happens, Cole is the only knight left standing (and just an assistant knight at that!) Cole must use all of his newly acquired skills to battle the fearsome dragon and avoid a catastrophe. Luckily, an unfortunate underwear mishap changes everything and Cole triumphs in this hilarious and triumphant tale! Kids of all ages will recognize themselves in our pint-sized hero.


From the creator of the New York Times bestseller Women in Science, comes a nonfiction picture book series ready to grow young scientists by nurturing their curiosity about the natural world–starting with what’s inside a flower.

Budding backyard scientists can start exploring their world with this stunning introduction to these flowery show-stoppers–from seeds to roots to blooms. Learning how flowers grow gives kids beautiful building blocks of science and inquiry.
In the launch of a new nonfiction picture book series, Rachel Ignotofsky’s distinctive art style and engaging, informative text clearly answers any questions a child (or adult) could have about flowers.



Priya plans a henna-night party that is out-of-this-world in the second installment of this full-color early chapter book series!

This series is part of Scholastic’s early chapter book line, Branches, aimed at newly independent readers. With easy-to-read text, high-interest content, fast-paced plots, and illustrations on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and stamina. Branches books help readers grow!

Priya’s party-planning business is hired to put together a henna-night party for teenagers! Priya gets more and more nervous as she struggles to find a theme for the party. What do TEENAGERS like?! All she knows for sure is that this party will help save endangered pangolins! So can Priya create a perfect henna-night party or will it be a flop?

With speech bubbles, easy-to-read text, and vibrant artwork on every page, this series is perfect for newly independent readers!

From a bestselling illustrator, this utterly unique comic-style book for kids 4 to 8 explores super-small creatures with astounding abilities.

Did you know that some of the smallest creatures on Earth have real-life superpowers?

The minute oribatid mite can lift more than 1,000 times its own weight. A tiny type of salamander (called an axolotl) can regrow body parts. And the almost microscopic tardigrade? It can survive practically anywhere, even in outer space! Acclaimed author Tiffany Stone combines comic panels and poems to share incredible facts about our world’s miniature marvels, while illustrator Ashley Spires’ zany cartoon-style illustrations make these itty-bitty superheroes (and supervillains) pop from the page.  From glow-in-the-dark sharks to immortal jellyfish and tiny cats with lethal aim, Super Small shows readers that just because you are small, it doesn’t mean you aren’t super—and sometimes being small can be super in and of itself.


From the bestselling Itty-Bitty Kitty-Corn creators, Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham, comes another heartwarming and hilarious Kitty and Unicorn story about feeling like a “third wheel”—and the enduring magic of true friendship

Kitty has a grand idea.
“Let’s throw a kitty-corn party!”
But when newcomer Puppy messes up Kitty’s perfectly laid plans and steals Unicorn’s attention and affection, Kitty is NOT pleased. When jealousy takes hold, can Unicorn help Kitty see that nothing will ever threaten a friendship as strong as theirs?
The magical, bestselling team of Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham reunite for another heart-bursting story featuring an utterly adorable kitty-corn pair—plus Puppy, too! ARF!—reassuring readers that true friends never run out of love for each other.


NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • WINNER OF THE 2023 CALDECOTT MEDAL • This glowing and playful picture book features an overheated—and overwhelmed—pup who finds his calm with some sea, sand, and fresh air. Destined to become a classic!

This hot dog has had enough of summer in the city! Enough of sizzling sidewalks, enough of wailing sirens, enough of people’s feet right in his face. When he plops down in the middle of a crosswalk, his owner endeavors to get him the breath of fresh air he needs. She hails a taxi, hops a train, and ferries out to the beach.  Here, a pup can run!



This heartwarming and affirming Level 1 Ready-to-Read Graphics book celebrates the beauty of true friendship!

Worm and Caterpillar are friends—best friends. Worm loves how they are just alike, but Caterpillar has a feeling there is a big change coming. Then Caterpillar disappears for a while and comes back as Butterfly. Will Butterfly and Worm still be friends?

Ready-to-Read Graphics books give readers the perfect introduction to the graphic novel format with easy-to-follow panels, speech bubbles with accessible vocabulary, and sequential storytelling that is spot-on for beginning readers. There’s even a how-to guide for reading graphic novels at the beginning of each book.


This little island is home to a large number of HORRIBLE grown-ups who like nothing more than making children miserable. The most AWFUL one of all is Aunt Greta Greed who owns the whole island.

Something needs to be done about them. But who could be brave enough?

Meet Ned – an extraordinary boy with a special power.SLIMEPOWER!

David Walliams was most recently Children’s #1 bestseller withThe World’s Worst Pets(TCM chart: 30 April 2022)



A perfect gift for the unicorn lovers in your life, this lovely and utterly transporting picture book tells the story of what every little girl wishes would happen to her: a girl finds and takes care of a lost baby unicorn.

Margaret’s whole world changes when her family moves to a cottage by the sea to be near her grandma. One evening, Margaret spots a mist over the water. No, that’s not mist…clouds maybe? No, they’re unicorns descending onto the shore! They vanish as quickly as they’d appeared, but accidentally leave behind a baby, tangled in the weeds. Margaret, lonely and in need of a friend, brings him home and cares for him through the fall and winter. Together, they chase the waves, stomp on frozen puddles, and build snow unicorns. When spring finally comes around, and the other unicorns return, Margaret’s takes her small friend back to his family… but these two won’t forget one another. And though Margaret misses him, she has made a new friend, and her new cottage is starting to feel like home. With all the feel of a classic, here is a picture book young readers will want to revisit again and again.


Magic, fantasy, and adventure combine to create this fast-paced series perfect for young readers!This series is part of Scholastic’s early chapter book line Branches, aimed at newly independent readers. With easy-to-read text, high-interest content, fast-paced plots, and illustrations on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and stamina. Branches books help readers grow!A terrible darkness is spreading across Perodia. Thorn, a powerful vulture, is using dark magic (and his dark army of spies!) to destroy the magical land. A young owl named Tag may be the only one who can save it! Tag dreams of one day becoming a brave warrior, but he is small . . . In this first book, Tag and his best friend — a squirrel named Skyla — meet the last firehawk. Together, the three friends learn about a magical stone. Could this stone be powerful enough to defeat Thorn? This action-packed series makes a great introduction to fantasy and quest stories for newly independent readers. Realistic black-and-white artwork appears on every page!


Go back to the Space Race with No.1 bestselling author David Walliams for a breathless cinematic adventure full of mystery, action, laughs and surprises – and a secret that could change the course of history…

America. The 1960s.

Stuck on a remote farm with her awful aunt, twelve-year-old orphan Ruth spends every night gazing at the stars, dreaming of adventure.

One night she spots a flying saucer blazing across the sky… before crash-landing in a field. When the spaceship opens and reveals a mysterious alien, all Ruth’s dreams come true.

But does this visitor from another planet have a giant secret?


A full-colour illustrated guide to Canada’s endemic species for young readers, from the award-winning author of Snooze-O-Rama: The Strange Ways that Animals Sleep.

Canada is home to over 308 endemic species of plants and animals — meaning they’re found nowhere else on Earth. In Canada Wild, award-winning author Maria Birmingham introduces young readers to twelve uniquely Canadian animals — many of which are threatened or endangered. Like the Sable Island sweat bee, which lives on a single sandbar three hundred kilometres off the coast of Nova Scotia; the Kermode bear, the rare white black bear also known as the “Spirit Bear”, which calls the coastal rainforests of northwestern BC home; and the Peary caribou, which can be found clomping through the Arctic tundra of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
Profiles of each animal showcase their habitat, diet, and status, while sidebars highlight fascinating facts about each animal, and a How’s It Doing section explains where it falls on the endangerment spectrum. Informative backmatter gives young readers practical advice on conservation and combating climate change, while colour illustrations throughout — including a map of Canada, showing the animals’ habitats — offer whimsical yet scientifically accurate depictions.


In this first of a charming series about a little mouse and her forest friends, Sophie Mouse must convince her classmates—and herself—that a new student is nothing to fear. Even if he is a snake! Readers will delight in The Adventures of Sophie Mouse!

In the first book of The Adventures of Sophie Mouse, springtime has arrived at Silverlake Forest! The animals are coming out of their homes, buds are blooming on the trees, and the air smells of honeysuckles and tree bark. Sophie Mouse can’t wait to go back to school after the long winter break.
Even better, there’s a new student in class—Sophie loves meeting new animals! But the class gasps when Owen enters: he’s a snake! No one is brave enough to sit near him, or play with Owen at recess, or even talk to him. Can Sophie help her friends understand that Owen’s not scary after all?
With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, the Adventures of Sophie Mouse chapter books are perfect for beginning readers.



May 9

The First Ever OJCS SUMMER Reading Challenge

To help prevent the summer slide in our students, we are running our first ever summer reading challenge!  


Depending on a student’s grade and their teacher, they will be required to either;

A. Read a certain number of books on a reading list provided by the teacher


B. Complete one or more genre bingos on the provided bingo sheet

The criteria for the challenge will be sent home with students on the second last week of school.

The prizes for students who complete the challenge will be;

  • New high interest books for all ages
  • Fidgets, silly putty, and novelty school supplies
  • posters


  • Parents/guardians must confirm that their child did indeed read the books that they say they did by signing a take-home form to be returned to their teacher in September along with either the bingo sheet or the recommended reading list and the ‘Books Finished’ tracker.


  • On our first week back at school, students who have prizes to claim can be sent to the library during their language arts period to claim their prizes.  I will have a large table set up with all of their choices.

If your child loses any of their reading challenge documents, here is a spare set you can print out at home!

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I highly recommend that all of our students get a FREE Ottawa Public Library card.  It will enable your children to have access to books all summer long and also gives them access to an endless supply of ebooks and audio books.


I suggest that if your child is going away for an extended stay at camp, that you try a five books/five friends swap idea.  If each one of 5 friends going to the same camp brings 5 books, then they have 25 books between them that they can share and they will definitely get some reading done while away.  If you check the bingo or reading list beforehand, you could choose books specific to the challenge.

I am also aware that some camps are trying to build little libraries through donations from families.  That might be a great way to get rid of some old children’s books at your house and encourage summer literacy at the same time.

Happy reading and have an amazing summer!

November 11

Evaluating a World of Reading Challenges

For my professional development project this year, I have decided to tackle the question of school reading challenges.  There is a lot more to this than you would imagine.  In fact, there have been numerous studies done to evaluate if these challenges encourage or discourage reading, or even if they make any impact at all.

I have run 5 school-wide reading challenges since my arrival here 7 years ago, and they all had fairly minimal student and teacher participation.  I tried a wide variety of prizes (from pizza parties, to small prizes, to classroom parties) and formats (number of books read, number of time spent reading, individual classroom goals, book bingo, social media sharing, etc…)  Unfortunately, there wasn’t much cohesion… some grades participated regularly, and some didn’t at all.  One of my tasks in this project is gathering feedback from language arts teachers about what worked and what didn’t.  More on the feedback later!

I started my project by looking at some of the biggest Canadian reading challenges.  Most of these are done in Public Libraries to encourage summer reading, but their applications are wider as well.  Here is a chart with some of the challenges that I have looked at so far;

An Overview of popular challenge styles in Canada

Name of Challenge How it works Prizes and rewards
TD Summer Reading Club Students get a nicely designed notebook where they track their reading.  For each book read they gain stickers.  This works as a sort of reading passport. Stickers for each book read that students add to the notebook.  They also get to put their name in for a draw for big prizes every summer day they read.
OPL summer reading club This is the same as the TD Summer reading club but involves more programming such as events involving robotics, events with animals, events with authors and illustrators. Prizes are drawn for participation and books read.
St. Albert Public Library Summer Reading Games (Alberta) Kids are given a reading tracker that includes a puzzle.  Students are able to colour in one piece of the puzzle per 10 minutes of reading.  There are 4, 8, or 12 hour trackers.   When the tracker puzzle is finished, kids get a small prize.  The prizes were mostly coupons for free food and treats at various places.  There was also candy and stickers.
Edmonton Public Library Reading Challenge Kids are given a reading tracker.  For every tracker completed, the child can make a button with the button maker.  A ballot was also entered for large prizes. A button made with each tracker returned.  Large prizes included a Nintendo Switch, an electric scooter, zoo passes.
Read to Succeed – The Ottawa Senators Reading Challenge Teachers set a reading goal online.  They track the class’ reading with an online tracker.  As each month ends teachers submit progress.   In April winners can get a pizza party with Spartycat or meet an Ottawa Senator.  Prizes are also drawn.
Toronto Public Library Reading Challenge Print a form that involves choosing 12 books to read across 12 genres in 12 months.  Participate in online forums about your reading.  Complete the challenge and then submit it at the end for your chance to win prizes. Prizes are not stated.
Battle of the Books (Selected Canadian Cities) 6 students from the school are put on the team.  Students read from a book list.  They then meet to compete in a question challenge.  The answer to each question is from the book. Winners get a trophy and move on to local and regional competitions.  
Indigo Reading Challenge – (Canada-Wide) The Indigo reading challenge is a book genre bingo card.  For every bingo you win prizes.  The expectation is that you participate via social media.   Book giveaways and credits.

It was very interesting to see the wide variety of formats and prizes available and how creative and elaborate some of them got.  I love the tie-in at OPL of including events such as guest speakers and authors.  I love the creativity of kids making their own buttons as prizes, or the idea of the puzzle time trackers.  There are so many amazing librarians out there working so hard to encourage kids to read in an age where most kids would rather be on a device.  It is a beautiful thing!

What Does the Research Say?

My next step was to cover some Scholarly research.  I chose two research papers.  The first was called ‘A Hook and a Book: Rewards as Motivators in Public Library Summer Reading Programs’ by Ruth V. Small, Marilyn P. Arnone, and Erin Bennett who are from the Association for Library Service to Children.  This paper, published and peer-reviewed in 2017, makes some surprising and interesting points.  Their first major point was about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.  If motivation is intrinsic, it means that children were engaging in a task for its own sake out of interest and enjoyment.  It also contributes to lifelong learning.  On the other hand, extrinsically motivated learning includes a reward system or prize.  These rewards focus the learner’s attention on the prize, rather than the learning itself.  It was noted that in a paper by B.F. Skinner that giving extrinsic rewards for reading sends the learner a message that the task or behaviour is not, in and of itself interesting or valuable.  In fact, it must be in some way disagreeable since a reward is required to make them do it.  It was also noted that extrinsic rewards can undermine students self-esteem and motivation.  Children who received rewards for reading have less interest in reading unless the reward is a book.  The researchers of this paper wanted to uncover the truth of Skinner’s points.

What is interesting is that these researchers actually found that the reading challenge participants felt that their reading competence was positively affected by their participation.  In fact, the results, based on interviews with students, parents, and librarians, found that relevant rewards given to students who have low intrinsic motivation can have a long-term positive impact.  It was noted, however, that the key to developing intrinsic motivation for reading relied on allowing children to choose books relevant to their interests, the setting of PERSONAL goals, and that the rewards should be related to reading or connected to the subject of the books they are reading.

The second paper I read was from Andrew Morrison at the University of Connecticut and was written as an Honors Scholar Theses.  It is called ‘Incentivized Learning and Libraries: A Comparative Study of Summer Reading Programs in Connecticut’ and was published in 2020.  This paper had a bit of a wider in scope in the sense that it was looking at how to promote reading in the face of declining library funding and interest without losing the intrinsic benefits.  This study contained some sad statistics, the first being that in 2018 average time spent reading for pleasure declined 24% from ten years earlier and that people age 15-34 read on average for only six minutes a day.  (I imagine this does not include reading posts on social media platforms.)  This paper covered the way many public libraries in Connecticut were running summer reading programs and highlighted some of the things that were working and some of the things that didn’t.  One of the key points is the value of these programs being a way to get kids into public libraries more frequently.  Once children make a connection to the place, the staff, and the books, you can grow readers.

Instead of counting books read, most programs aim for 20 minutes of reading time per day.  Shorter chunks that came with rewards made the goal more obtainable.  And just as in the other study, one of the key points was that libraries need to foster a love of reading no matter what the text’s genre, level, or audience, to create life-long readers.  This to me is a key point in an academic environment.  To gain a lifelong love of reading, we need to remember that it is not a level or genre of book that is important, it is the encouraging of student interests that will make this a life-long habit.

A wide variety of rewards in these programs included gift cards to arts classes, admission to museums, free books, field trips, etc…  In other words, the focus was less about material rewards as it was about rewards or experiences that continue to educate the child.

How Do Our Teachers Feel About Reading Challenges?

From here I moved onto surveying our OJCS language arts teachers.  It was very interesting to see the results of this survey.  Here are some of the results;



So our teachers feel that there is value in a school-wide reading challenge.  And yet in an open and honest conversation with several of them, they admitted that the reading challenges often caused students to rapidly flip through books and say that they read them just to be able to mark it down as read.  In conversation, it also came out that they felt that the challenge made reading seem like a chore, which is something that the researchers pointed out.  It causes reading to lose its intrinsic value.

It is interesting to see that they felt the most motivating prizes for their kids weren’t the ones that cost money, but rather, the class party prizes.  They also felt that it was important to have a classroom goal to meet.

How Are the Students at the OJCS Reading This Year?

Circulation this year is higher than it has ever been across all grades.  My numbers are as follows;

2019 School Year from September to November:

Last school year from September to November (during this period they had to reserve books online.)

This school year so far:

This year circulation is up exponentially!  It will be the year with the highest circulation ever since I arrived at the OJCS.  It is interesting to note though that the grade with the lowest book sign out rate consistently is grade 8 (JK and SK are signed out by the teachers.)  I think this is likely due to all of the novel studies that go on in that grade, combined with a bigger homework load and of course, the fact that reading is competing against social media.

I also introduced a Manga section at the library that has created a reading frenzy among some of our historically most reluctant readers.  It is very true that by letting students read according to their own passions and interests, circulation goes way way up.

So What Now?

Some of the big takeaways for me were we to decide to run a school-wide reading challenge next year would be;

  • that kids set both personal and classroom goals based on time rather than quantity of books – this could mean that kids decide they want to learn more about certain topics by reading about them (animals, famous scientists, volcanoes, etc…) and that they decide to read for 30 minutes a day after school.  They will also set a class goal that can be a certain number of hours read combined for the class.
  • that kids track their reading in a paper-journal or puzzle-page format – This would help teachers to know what was read and the level of student comprehension.  It would also allow for documentation.
  • that kids be free to read according to their own interests in order to grow a life-long love of reading – this connects to students setting personal goals and means that students determine where their reading will take them this year.  There will be no rules about what books are chosen, but students are encouraged to explore and grow.
  • that the prize for meeting the classroom goal is a class party (maybe with a literary theme?)
  • after reaching a student’s personal goal at the end of the year, students could choose a new book as a prize.

This has been a very enlightening project to work on and I am excited about where we will take this at the OJCS next year.  If you have any feedback for me about reading challenges, I’d love to see it in the comments below!


November 30

Digital Citizenship Meets The OJCS Reading Challenge!

This year the OJCS Reading Challenge is designed to make reading fun, encourage our students to reach for new reading goals, and to teach digital citizenship while connecting globally.

We will be getting students to participate in the class creation of tweets, instagram posts, youtube videos or tik tok videos (whatever social media formats the teacher prefers, the accounts are owned and regulated by the teacher and are professional (not personal) accounts).  These posts will share their class reading goals and accomplishments in fun and creative ways.  The class will then check those posts regularly for likes and words of encouragement from around the globe.  They may even be able to  connect with other schools participating in their own reading challenge.  Students will also use their blogs as a place to post book reviews and to blog about their personal reading goals.  They can even embed or link the class social media posts directly to their blogs!

Class goals could include a certain number of books read by the class each week or each month, a certain number of books of a specific genre or a variety of genres read, etc…  These goals are determined by the teacher or decided as a class and can change week to week or month to month.

Students love being online, so this is a way for them to practice their digital citizenship with post creation (spelling, hashtags, using photos and videos in posts) and take pride in their reading accomplishments, as well as get global props and encouragement.
The end-of-year prize is a classroom movie party for each class that participated regularly.  The library will provide popcorn and candy for each class.
September 4

The Library Catalogue Has an Exciting New Feature

Over the summer the library catalogue was updated with an exciting new feature – the reading level values for the books in our collection.  At OJCS we use Accelerated Reader as a way for students, teachers, and parents to track reading improvement and progress.  By making our catalogue searchable with AR values, students will be able to challenge themselves when making book selections.

Here is how you use it;

Click on the library catalogue link below:
Search any book in the search bar.  The AR score is immediately visible on the bottom.

You can see the reading level in point value for this book next to the AR icon.

If you click on the record you can even see the quiz number attached to that title.

The quiz number is in the line with all of the study program information.

You can also search our catalogue by reading level range.
Click on the SEARCH tab.
Enter the min and max reading level and click search.  You can also add in a SUBJECT or a KEYWORD.
This tool is very quick and efficient to use and something that parents, teachers, and students can all benefit from learning.  Happy searching!
May 16

The OJCS Rocked the Reading Challenge!!

The OJCS is incredibly proud of all of our students and teachers who put in a big effort for their classroom book tallies.  As a school, we read over 6300 books in English, French and Hebrew!!!

The OJCS has never had so many books in circulation.

What a typical grade 3 book returns pile looks like. Photo by student Jack Greenberg.

I am very excited to announce that the entire school will be treated to a pizza party on Friday June 14th.  Because of that, this 80s throwback has been stuck in my head for weeks!

Students should be very proud of their amazing accomplishment.

January 17

The OJCS has read over 2170 books so far!

The OJCS Reading Challenge is in full swing and every class is doing an incredible job.  Books are flying off the shelves in the library.  I’ve never seen students so excited about reading and sharing about what they’ve been reading.  Students have been posting book reviews on our catalogue and also sharing flipgrid videos.  There has been a tangible shift in reading culture at the school and everyone is working hard to continuously motivate the kids.  The kids are also working hard to motivate each other.

Each grade is reading books that are appropriate for their age and grade level, so of course, the older the kids, the bigger the books and the longer they take to finish.  Here are our numbers so far…

Grade 8 – 26

Grade 7 – 68

Grade 6 – 72

Grade 5 – 56

Grade 4 – 330

Grade 3 – 945

Grade 2 – 261

Grade 1 – 397

K – 15+

These numbers are enough to bring tears of joy to a librarian’s heart.  I need a tissue.

November 29

‘I Didn’t Do My Homework Because…’ Fun Creative Writing

One of my favourite picture book artists right now is French artist Benjamin Chaud who worked with French author, Davide Cali, to create a hilarious series of books about excuses.  The one I read with our grade 3 and 4 students is called I Didn’t Do My Homework Because…

After reading the book to students I set them to work creating their own silly excuses and doodles in just 10 minutes.


They then got the opportunity to share their excuses with the class, which they were all very excited to do.

They had so much fun with this activity and it was so easy to pull off.  Their amazing excuses are on display in the hall downstairs.  Make sure to check them out so you don’t get fooled when you hear them in class.