New Titles for Inspiring Change

The end of the year is a time for reflection and resolution. What better time to check out some new books to inspire your educational practices? This month, our new titles reflect on the nature and purpose of education and its ability to include and inspire all teachers and learners. Education can and should change the world!

Teaching for Purpose  by Heather Malin captures this theme in its entirety. As Malin asks in her introduction, “What matters most to you? […] If you could change anything in the world, what would you change? When you were in school, did you have the opportunity to explore these questions and really think about what you value, who you wanted to become, or how you wanted to use your learning to contribute to the world?” The purpose of education matters, both for teachers and students, and Malin emphasizes that students need to be aware of the goals of their education and how they can use it to contribute in the world. Teaching for Purpose is divided into three parts that respectively describes the theory and research surrounding youth purpose development, examines teaching and pedagogical approaches to supporting purpose development, and reviews programs that currently exist to teach students how to create purpose in their lives. It is a touchstone for educators who are eager to “create a culture of purpose” in their schools, and its first chapter, asking you to explore your own purpose, might just inspire you, too!

For educators who wish to inspire further systemic change, Educators on Diversity, Social Justice, and Schooling: A Reader, edited by Sonya E. Singer and Mary Jane Harkins is a collection of essays written about pressing social issues in education. Change cannot be implemented if the issues are not understood, and this reader provides a variety of perspectives on race, poverty, colonialism, diversity, and social justice more broadly as they exist within education, written by “a diverse group of critical and forward-thinking scholars who are addressing issues because of their deep commitment to becoming agents of change.” The third section of the book, focused on “schooling,” is especially helpful for educators by exploring students’ and teachers’ relationships with each other and with social justice initiatives in the classroom.

The dialogues created between academics and educators in Educators on Diversity, Social Justice, and Schooling: A Reader can be continued in the classroom with Intersection Allies: We Make Room for All, written by Chelsea Johnson, LaToya Council, and Carolyn Choi, and  illustrated by Ashley Seil Smith. This picture book is appropriate for all ages, facilitated by an adult storyteller. It encourages young learners to “make room” for everyone and stand in solidarity with those who might be different from them. Told in rhyme and filled with bright pictures, this book is a vibrant introduction to themes of social justice and equity. It also contains extensive notes, a discussion guide, and a list of inspiring books for further reading.

Older elementary and high school students may be inspired by Can Your Conversations Change the World? by Erinne Paisley. Written from a very accessible and current feminist perspective, this book is meant to spark conversations about equity. Paisley is a young feminist currently studying at the University of Toronto, whose outspoken approaches to feminist issues have gone viral (including her statement prom dress fashioned out of her math homework in 2015, meant to raise awareness and funds for girls’ education). Can Your Conversations Change the World? is her third book, and it provides an overview of some of the most pressing issues in global feminist movements, calling on today’s youth to take social action and work for change where they want to see it most in the world.

For even more feminist inspiration, and affirmation that anyone, anywhere can make a difference, check out Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World by Vashti Harrison. This charmingly illustrated collection of mini-biographies of remarkable women from across the globe is an inspiring introduction to the lives of influential and revolutionary women in art and science, including figures like painter Frida Khalo, author Toni Morrison, chemist Asima Chatterjee, environmentalist and activist Wangari Maathai, and many others. As Harrison writes in her introduction, “Through their curiosity and creative thinking, these ordinary women accomplished extraordinary things. Thanks to their persistence and willingness to make mistakes, they had a lasting impact on their fields of study, and some even changed the world.” This book will inspire all audiences, and it’s great for sharing with younger readers!

All of these books — and more inspiring reads for both educators and learners! — can be found on the New Titles shelf on the ground floor of the OISE Library.

Posted in New Titles | Leave a comment

Indigenous Storywork and Literatures

This month’s Indigenous display is focused on Indigenous Literatures and Storywork. All of the books in the display were written and curated by writers with the firm belief that stories have the power to effect personal, political and social change. These stories are used by Indigenous writers to imagine and engage with different relationships between the communities, land, history, family, and other individuals. Below are a few selections from the display. If you’d like to check out books from this display you can do so by visiting the Ground Floor Display of OISE Library (across from the New Titles shelf) and taking out the books.

The Gift is In the Making is a collection of 21 tales from the Nishnaabeg storyteller Leanne Betasamosake Simpson. Her purpose for the compiling these stories was “to liberate a few of them from the colonial contexts in which they are too often documented – in which we see the marginalization and subjugation of female characters and spirits, a focus on hierarchy and authoritarian power, and an overly moral and judgmental tone.” The collected stories in the book are also surrounded by full-page illustrations which widen the scope of the storytelling throughout the book. This book is recommended for students age 9 – 15 or grades 4-9.

Why Indigenous Literatures Matter is described as “part survey of the field of Indigenous literary studies, part cultural history, and part literary polemic.” This book is an extremely important resource that reflects on the connections between literature and lived Indigenous experiences. Furthermore, it also works as a tremendous resource for those who are trying to explore Indigenous writing as it provides an encyclopedic appendix at the end that speaks to the canon of Indigenous literature that has always existed—even if obscured by colonial history. It also asks readers to reflect on their own assumptions when the engage with Indigenous literature and stories at large. This book is written for both general readers as well as for specialists who have certain topics of interest in the field.

Turtle Island Voices is a curriculum resource that shares the histories, perspectives and stories of First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities across Canada. The book is written in a way that encourages students to respond and engage with the stories by sharing their own stories and perspectives with one another. This book is also aimed at slowly improving the literacy of students by doing activities such as answering questions about the themes discussed in the stories, or including sentence starters. The activities and stories are adjusted for different grades from Gr.1 – Gr. 6

Taking Back Our Spirit focuses on how different types of Indigenous literatures spanning from contemporary autobiographies, fictional works, drama and much more function as medicine that help heal individuals as well as their communities. This book traces back to how the earliest settler policies focused on dealing with the “Indian problem” and how the historical trauma of those public policies still impacts Indigenous peoples today. Episkenew identifies how undertaking different reading strategies can highlight how writing can be a tool for social justice. Some of the writers whose works she explores include Basil Johnston, Maria Campbell, Beatrice Culleton Mosionier and Richard Wagamese. This book is recommended for those interested in literary criticism.

Posted in Indigenous Ground Floor Display, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Food for Fines 2019

Starting next week, from November 11 to November 22, we will waive $2 of library fines from participating libraries in exchange for each non-perishable food item (maximum $20 waived). Don’t have any fines? You can still donate!

The most needed items include: baby food, canned fruits, canned fish, plain beans (no sauce), canned vegetables, juice boxes, salad dressings and condiments.

Where: OISE Library Circulation Desk (second-floor entrance)

When: Monday, November 11 – Friday, November 22, during library opening hours

Food items will be donated to the U of T Food and Clothing Bank.

The U of T Food and Clothing Bank operates year round and is open to all University of Toronto students. Register for the service by bringing in a print-out of your current timetable from ACORN and your TCard. Visit the Food and Clothing Bank on Fridays between 12–3 pm at the U of T Multi-Faith Centre, 569 Spadina (between Willcocks and College). Please bring your own bags.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Titles for Fall

As the fall season gets underway here are some new book titles at OISE Library to add to your reading list for the classroom, your own personal education or for fun!

Homeschooling: the History & Philosophy of a Controversial Practice by James G. Dwyer and Shawn F. Peters

The practice of homeschooling is often viewed through a controversial lens. Those who support it highlight its ability to allow children to flourish individually without restrictions or bullying. However, many other individuals view it as a way to isolate children, neglecting their education and controlling their worldview. Dwyer and Peters examine the fundamentals of the practice of homeschooling and the long debate over the regulation and control the state should have on the education of children. The authors aim to get the facts straight, and take the time to look at both the arguments for and against homeschooling within the context of the American school system. Looking at the issue through a legal cultural lens, the authors evaluate the policies and reach a conclusion on the strategy of action around homeschooling. As the interest in homeschooling sees a resurgence, the authors aim to inform and inspire thought around the practice.

The Pencil by Susan Avingaq and Maren Vstula, illustrated by Charlene Chua

Growing up on the land in the territory that is now known as Nunavut, author Susan Avingaq’s writing is inspired by her cultural teachings and the land she calls home. This endearing story follows young Susan as she watches her Anaana (mother) write letters to people with her one and only cherished pencil. One day when Susan and her siblings run out of things to do, Susan and her siblings get to play with the pencil. As she and her siblings draw pictures for their Anaana the pencil becomes smaller and smaller, and Susan starts to worry how her Anaana will feel when she comes home. Inspired by the author’s upbringing, The Pencil demonstrates to young readers the importance of being mindful of how you use your resources.

The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag

This magical graphic novel follows a young boy, Aster, who is raised in a magical family where the girls grow up to be witches and the boys shapeshifters. The female witches are meant to manipulate and control magic, while the male shapeshifters job is to protect their community. Anyone who defies this rule is punished with exile. Aster, however, is fascinated with witchery and magic, and try as he might he as been unable to shift. As the danger of terrible monsters begins to threaten his community and friends, Aster is forced to accept his differences and hone his magic to protect them. This adventure follows Aster as he gains the courage to become himself and break away from the gendered stereotypes of his family. This book encourages readers to celebrate differences and demonstrates that you don’t need to conform to gender norms. This novel is recommended for ages 8 to 12.

Captive Audience: How Corporations Invaded Our Schools by Catherine Gidney

Captive Audience explores the long history of branding and monetizing the classroom within the Canadian Public School system. Gidney discusses the encroaching effects of capitalism within the system, and the pressures to fill funding gaps. Since the 1990s the rise of corporations and advertising has become an ever-present fixture within the public school system. Advertisement agencies have taken advantage of the funding cuts to our schools, and stepped in to finance programs and support students – at a cost. These charitable donations to schools are not meant to enhance the learning of the student, but rather to start building customer loyalty from a young age. Gidney discusses examples of this advertising within Canadian classrooms as well as looking at the effects of advertising on children’s learning. Large companies such as Home Depot and Apple have integrated themselves into the system in different ways, from sponsoring the building of playgrounds (with complimentary Home Depot merchandise), to equipping children’s classrooms with their products, and so aiming to create lifelong Apple customers.

Leila in Saffron by Rukhsanna Guidroz; illustrated by Dinara Mirtalipova

Leila and her Naani (grandmother) are very close. While Leila is lacking in self confidence, through her family dinner visits on Friday night Leila comes across many things that she likes about herself and begins to build her self-confidence. Leila showcases her cooking skills, and notices which family members she takes after. Being at her Naani’s for Friday night dinner makes Leila feel snug and happy. Beautiful illustrations make this novel come alive as Leia’s Naani helps her find confidence in herself, and encourages her to see herself in the positive way that the rest of her family sees her. Illustrator Mirtalipova’s rich coloured mixed media drawings help to bring this story alive as Leila discovers the different parts of her that make her who she is.



Posted in New Titles | Leave a comment

Ontario Treaty Recognition Week

November 4 – 8, 2019 is Treaty Recognition Week in Ontario. This is part of a series of days bringing awareness to Indigenous issues known as Indigenous Education Month. OISE Library has a number of valuable materials for K-12, postsecondary and graduate students alike on Treaty Education. The Land which is now known as Toronto has been the subject of a treaty since the Toronto Purchase in 1787. It is also subject to the Williams Treaties. The current stewards and treaty holders for Toronto are the Mississauga of the New Credit First Nation. For more information on the treaties affecting Toronto, please see the Mississauga of the New Credit First Nation website on the Toronto Purchase and Treaty Lands & Territory. The University of Toronto Libraries also has a Research Guide entitled The Indigenous History of Tkaronto.

No surrender : the land remains Indigenous by Sheldon Krakowski details the negotiations of the Numbered Treaties, and especially the misleading of Indigenous Nations such as the Cree, Anishnabeg, Saulteaux, Assiniboine, Siksika, Piikani, Kainaa, Stoney and Tsuu T’ina Nations. This book focuses on the understanding that Indigenous Nations wanted to share the Land but the British Colonial and then Canadian Governments had no intention to negotiate in good faith.

Alex shares his Wampum by Kelly Crawford is a story of a student, Alex who talks about the importance of Wampums to his family and his community. In the story, Alex explains that Wampums were made to represent covenants and relationships that were meant to last. For a recorded reading of this book by the GEDSB Indigenous Education Youtube Channel, click here.

Treaties by Simon Rose is a reference material meant for students in primary grades to learn about the basics and definitions of treaties. Treaties reveals the pressures and negotiations that Indigenous Nations have felt over the continued stewardship and governance of Indigenous Lands.

For more Treaty Education materials, please refer to our book list Treaty Education and Geography.


Posted in Indigenous Ground Floor Display | Leave a comment