An Introduction to NoveList K-8 PLUS

OISE Library is introducing the NoveList K-8 PLUS database that helps all teachers, parents, and library workers who need guidance when selecting the best books for young readers in the classroom and beyond. NoveList has various features that are unique; elements such as Identity Related Tags, the Appeal Mixer, and Recommended Reads List have wonderful functions that support children of all ages in their reading needs.

In this post, we will be learning how to use this database. NoveList K-8 PLUS can be found through the University of Toronto’s Library Search by typing its name and filtering the requested format to “database.” Thereafter, a search result for this database will show up as pictured below:

Library Search link to NoveList K-8 PLUS

Once the link redirects to the NoveList K-8 PLUS database, we can explore each of its features. The following tutorial videos provide introductions, details on the database functions, and how we can get started:

Identity Related Tags

Appeal Mixer

Recommended Reads List

Whether you would like to search for diverse children’s literature for the classroom, create specialized reading lists, or find various suggested literature based on your genre or subject of choice, NoveList K-8 PLUS is here for to recommend the best books for you. To learn more about the OISE Library’s educational resources, please follow our Instagram and TikTok to view more tutorials and informative videos.

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OISE Spotlight: Dr. David R. Olson

Written by Faizan Rana

In this post, the OISE Library will highlight the work of OISE Professor Emeritus, Dr. David R. Olson in disseminating academic knowledge within his subject expertise. Throughout his career at OISE, Dr. Olson has played a pivotal role in developing the field of Educational Psychology, particularly within areas pertaining to children’s literacy. Additionally, Dr. Olson has served as the Director of the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology from 1982-1990, where he advanced Literary Theory by discussing how cognitive understandings of text were derived from cultural evolutions. Later, in a 2009 interview, Dr. Olson commented on the cultural importance of digitizing materials citing its role in “democratized literacy” by linking communities.

Cover of Making Sense: What it Means to UnderstandRecently, Dr. Olson has released his 20th book publication titled, Making Sense: What it Means to Understand. This book explores a primary branch in his research interests about how literacy progression in children affects their acquisition and development of understanding. Pursuing what he refers to as a “theory of mind”, this concept refers to how children become conscious that others’ views of the world differ from their own perspective. Fundamentally, Dr. Olson discusses how the languages children are taught affect their “theory of mind” & colour their perspectives and interpretations of the world. Fundamental to the “theory of mind” is the notion of “understanding.” This book aims to better elucidate the role of understanding which has been theorized as the primary faculty of the mind by philosophers and scholars, including Descartes, Locke, & Kant. Thus, this book aids in delving deeper into early childhood processes of understanding that have not been extensively examined in modern sciences.

Cover of The Mind on Paper: Reading, Consciousness and RationalityThrough his many years of scholarly research, Dr. Olson has maintained a strong reputation within areas of educational literacy. This is evident through his publishing a recent book in 2016, The Mind on Paper: Reading, Consciousness and Rationality, which posits how reading and writing function as “doorways” into our conscious representations of language that are less explicit, and consciously manifested in verbal speech. Dr. Olson discusses how this is vital in enabling human beings to make meta-representational concepts concrete in a systematized manner. Not only does this enable literacy to flourish, but also serves as a prerequisite to complex thought and rationality. In large part, these factors are what give literacy its value in society and why education is always a pivotal part of political debate. Additionally, this book provides insight into literacy from the perspective of cognitive sciences which has limited research. This book also explores theories relating both writing and mind such as Vygotsky’s theory of language as well as pedagogical & psychological aspects of reading. This book is an important contribution for educators, or scholars interested in literacy & developmental psychology.

Cover for The World on Paper: The Conceptual and Cognitive Implications of Writing and ReadingIn the same vein, Dr. Olson earlier work, The World on Paper: The Conceptual and Cognitive Implications of Writing and Reading (1994), also focuses on how aspects of reading and writing have developmentally but also historically advanced to shape perceptions of language, the mind, & nature by consequence. Our understanding of the world is then in a way drawn from how we represent “the world on paper” as suggested by Dr. Olson who drew on contributions from various fields like linguistics, anthropology, & psychology within this book. Within this book, Olson begins by arguing against common assumptions that writing is merely a transcription of speech or that alphabetic language systems are better than syllabic alternatives. Once again, Olson draws on areas of psychology and anthropology from renowned theorists like Vygotsky & Cole to reinforce his stances. Olson then takes a historical approach to examining changes in writing practices from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance in regard to theological practices. Notable cultural shifts are also mentioned with the advent of the printing press making written books, maps, & paper credentials more commonplace which invariably impacted societal social dynamics. Near the end, Olson returns to his own research on children’s understanding of utterances. All in all, this book is great in providing context for historical influences on literacy development & modern influences educational literacy.

Cover of Psychology and Educational ReformIn another earlier work, Psychology and Educational Reform (2003), Dr. Olson offers a critical examination of why schools remain rigid in spite of calls for reforms is provided via a theoretical psychology perspective. In this examination, Olson discusses how educational institutions shape the minds of their students & lay people. He mentions how schools are consistently able to do so by meeting both student body & bureaucratic societal performance expectations, thus reinforcing their institutional position. This somewhat parallels his most recent book on Making Sense… in how literacy shapes children’s theory of mind. Moreover, Dr. Olson mentions a tension between the needs of educational institutions (e.g., evaluation, teaching, and taxpayer responsibilities) and the needs of students (e.g., learning, goals, & ambition). Any educational reform would need to balance both “institutional” and “pedagogical” needs to succeed. This explains why Dewey’s late 1970s push for more collaborative rather than rote-memorization schooling was denied as it focused too heavily on solely children’s needs. 

All of these books written by Dr. Olson are available via the OISE Library collections either in physical or eBook formats.

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Land-Based Learning

This month’s book display at the OISE ground floor display case focuses on Indigenous pedagogies, and land-based learning. The books in this display have been curated to offer a taste of the variety of materials that can be used to further knowledge in this area found at OISE. This display includes different genres – from monographs to picture books – and cultural backgrounds from Inuit, Cree, Diné, and Hawaiian to offer a breadth of perspective. Each centre and affirm Indigenous knowledge systems, practices, and celebrate the land as a central component of these systems and these communities.

Cover of Coyote and Raven Go Canoeing: Coming Home to the VillagePeter Cole’s poetic free-verse account, Coyote and Raven Go Canoeing: Coming Home to the Village offers an impactful discussion on navigating academia as an Indigenous person, and more broadly offers a salient critique of settler society. He engages with themes of colonization, language, education, and climate change through a narrative recounting of his academic journey, told through a canoe journey. Accompanied by Tricksters Coyote and Raven, Cole centres Indigenous knowledge as legitimate and existing outside of academic walls, and the centrality of language to Indigenous knowledge. Nearly celebrating its tenth anniversary, the themes and discussions Cole presents bear significant consequence for Indigenous people in academia, today more than ever.

Cover of The Earth Memory Compass: Diné Landscapes and Education in the Twentieth CenturyThe Earth Memory Compass: Diné Landscapes and Education in the Twentieth Century, published in 2018, explores the history of western education among Dine people in the 20th century. Farina King looks at the experience and impact of day schools, boarding schools, and then places that in context of the current trends of community driven schools. This monograph emphasizes the importance of early education and Dine cultural values, broader history and impacts of federal education policy on Dine communities through boarding schools and their assimilationist goals, while highlighting and centring Dine community and cultural perseverance against assimilationist policies and trauma.

Cover of Land-based education: embracing the rhythms of the earth from an Indigenous perspectiveHerman Mitchell’s 2018 monograph Land-based education: embracing the rhythms of the earth from an Indigenous perspective is beautiful narrative, analytical and reflective piece that explores the education by examining the land as both the classroom and the teacher. Drawing on Cree oral histories, knowledge and traditional practices, Mitchell centres and validates Indigenous ways of knowing as legitimate knowledge. Mitchell is able to weave these knowledge practices together with western education models and frameworks, making it accessible and actionable for educators seeking to engage Cree land practices and knowledge systems. This monograph is particularly relevant and impactful for bridging the discussions on land-based learning and knowledge practice with climate change. 

Cover of The Seeds We Planted: Portraits of a Native Hawaiian Charter SchoolThe Seeds We Planted: Portraits of a Native Hawaiian Charter School is a detailed case study of the creation and development of a culture-based charter school in urban Honolulu. Noelani Goodyear-Ka‘ōpua explores the school from its inception to a legitimate alternative to the existing settler-colonial school system. She places the case study in the context of the larger socio-political context around colonial education policy, and community education sovereignty. Goodyear-Ka‘ōpua centres oral histories and consistently references Hawaiian language to express contextual and knowledge depth, such as the anticolonial sovereignty pedagogy of aloha ‘āina, which refers to land-centered literacy, making the land, connection to land, language and land practices the focus of learning. Also celebrating its tenth anniversary, this case study remains a prominent work in the discussion of education sovereignty. 



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Environmental and Sustainability Education Research


In the 21st century, concerns about global environmental and climate change has led many leaders, advocates and communities to take urgent action against the looming climate crisis. Over the past few weeks, world leaders and delegates have met in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt at the United Nations 27th Conference of Parties (COP 27). The goal of these conferences is to encourage action and discussion of the world’s collective climate goals. 

Education plays an important role in facilitating programming, researching and advocating for sustainability and climate action. Environmental  and Sustainability Education (EE) aims to foster environmentally conscious students in a culturally appropriate way to build capacity for community-based decision making and environmental stewardship (Ministry of Education, 2009).

OISE Library has many resources available for folks interested in exploring climate and sustainability focused education in their research at OISE.

From the Collection

Cover of Occupy Education: Living and Learning SustainablyOccupy education: living and learning sustainability

Occupy Education, by Dr. Tina Evans, examines the critical role of education, particularly new pedagogies and education practices, and how they can effectively address the eco crisis of the 21st century. The book focuses on the critical role of sustainable education to foster social change in order to address global and local climate issues such as natural resource shortages, ecological breakdown and economic instability.

Cover of Advancing Environmental Education PracticeAdvancing Environmental Education Practice

The book Advancing Environmental Education Practice by Marianne Krasny examines the potential outcomes of environmental education beyond knowledge and attitudes to include nature connectedness, sense of place, efficacy, identity, youth assets and individual wellbeing. The book challenges knowledge-attitudes-behaviour pathways that underpin common environmental education practices.

Cover of International Perspectives on the Theory and Practice of Environmental Education: a ReaderInternational Perspectives on the Theory and Practice of Environmental Education: a Reader

This book International Perspectives on the Theory and Practice of Environmental Education by Giuliano Reis and Jeff Scott shares critical perspectives on the conceptualization, implementation and alternative practices of environmental education for diverse groups of learning in international education settings. This book fosters conversations amongst researchers, teacher educators, schoolteachers, and community leaders in order to promote new international collaborations around current and potential forms of environmental education.

Cover of Engaging environmental education: learning, culture and agencyEngaging environmental education: learning, culture and agency

Robert Stevenson and Justin Dillon’s book Engaging environmental education addresses the critical challenges of making environmental education engaging for students and citizens. The book examines many case studies that emphasize different socio-cultural approaches to environmental learning within and outside formal education contexts.

Cover art for Teaching in a Climate CrisisListen to: Teaching in a Climate Crisis

Hosts Yana Lee & Jackson Fowlow from OISE’s Master of Teaching program, discuss how teachers can best address the climate crisis, and who’s leading the way here in Canada? The podcast has a number of insightful and inspiring discussions; however,   Episode 7: Leading Research, and Hope is an interesting conversation about climate change education, and teaching evidence-based hope in classrooms.

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Math Reads: Curriculum Resources and Children’s Literature

The OISE Library in September compiled a list of math-related teaching material and picture books to celebrate Science Literacy week. We’ve highlighted a few of these resources here.

Curriculum Resources to Merge Storytelling and Math

cover of Cowboys Count, Monkeys Measure, and Princesses Problem Solve by Jane M. Wilburne and Mary Napoli

Educators can explore the relationship between storytelling and foundational math concepts in Jane M. Wilburne and Mary Napoli’s 2011 educator guide Cowboys Count, Monkeys Measure, and Princesses Problem Solve. The authors provide a list of over 40 stories along with example lessons and a lesson planning template, equipping teachers with tools to readily introduce this math–language arts approach to students in pre-K to grade three.

In The Power of Picture Books in Teaching Math and Science, Lynn Columbia (2017) recommends a similar story-driven method for teaching math concepts—ranging from arithmetic to geometry—to pre-kindergarten to grade 8 students. Lynn offers over 50 math and science lessons that depend on stories, including Paul Fleischman’s Weslandia (1999) in which an imaginative boy builds a civilization and Graeme Base’s The Water Hole (2001) which examines habitats and endangered species. Blending literacy and numeracy, the integrated curriculum described in Lynn’s text helps students meaningfully connect with math and science.

cover of The Power of Picture Books in Teaching Math and Science by Lynn Columbia
cover of Exploring Maths through Stories and Rhymes: Active Learning in the Early Years by Janet Rees

Janet Rees is equally enthusiastic about incorporating picture books into math lessons in Exploring Maths through Stories and Rhymes: Active Learning in the Early Years (2019). Just as valuable as stories are nursery rhymes as both can make math less daunting. Storybooks and nursery rhymes, according to Janet, are welcoming environments for strengthening problem-solving skills and investigating key math topics, such as counting, addition and subtraction, measurement, and shapes.

Picture Books to Integrate with Math Lessons

Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci (2010) by Joseph D’Agnese recounts the life history of Italian mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci. Readers come to know Fibonacci as a curious and misunderstood boy who daydreams about numbers. His passion for numbers eventually leads to the discovery of the Fibonacci sequence—a mathematical series found in nature from flower petals to seashells. Blockhead is wonderfully illustrated by John O’Brien with pictures of the Fibonacci sequence that invite readers to actively participate as mathematicians and naturalists in the learning process.

cover of Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci by Joseph D’Agnese
cover of The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins

In Pat Hutchins’ The Doorbell Rang (1986), Sam and Victoria are preparing to eat freshly baked cookies when the neighbourhood children arrive. Sam and Victoria decide to share their 12 cookies. As more and more children ring the doorbell, it becomes increasingly difficult to divide the cookies. Readers along with Sam and Victoria apply their understanding of division to distribute the cookies fairly. Hutchins’ picture book not only invites young readers to try using math operations, but it also encourages sharing. The book benefits from repetitive language, a simple plot, and what is likely a familiar scenario. 

Anno’s Mysterious Multiplying Jar (1982) is about “one jar and what was inside it.” Readers realize that this jar and its contents explain multiplication and products, specifically factorials. Mitsumasa Anno and Masaichiro Anno make factorials interesting by using detailed, mesmerizing illustrations of islands, mountains, kingdoms, villages, houses, rooms, cupboards, boxes, and jars. They unpack factorials, a topic that can seem complex, with explanations that are engaging and effective.  

cover of Anno's Mysterious Multiplying Jar by Mitsumasa Anno and Masaichiro Anno

Check out these books using the links or our catalogue. For more recommendations, refer to our OISE Library Math Literacy Collections page on the 2022 Science Literacy Library Guide.

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