The 5 Best Picture Books to Teach Canadian History

Are you wanting to boost engagement in your Social Studies class? Try incorporating these 5 picture books to teach Canadian History! Your upper elementary students are sure to love these mentor texts and learn a ton of new information about Canadian History!

You will notice that the books below represent a variety of cultures and races. This is very intentional as I believe that it is so important to showcase Canada’s diversity when learning about our country’s history.

1) Meet Viola Desmond

This is one of my all time favourite books about a famous Canadian. Viola Desmond fought for Black Civil Rights. Students are always so surprised that Black Canadians also had to fight for civil rights, as they are so used to only hearing American stories. If you’re interested in studying this book in more detail, click HERE to check out my Interactive Read Aloud Unit.

2) When I Was Eight

I feel as though this is one of the most impactful books about Residential Schools. Students are instantly drawn to the main character, Olemaun. The book details her horrific experience at Canadian Residential School. This book is so powerful that I created an entire Interactive Read Aloud Unit to accompany it. You can find it HERE.

3) The Red Sash

This is a fantastic book about a Métis boy who wants to be a voyageur. This book is a great addition to your Canadian History Social Studies Unit and gives students great insight into the Métis people and the lives of voyageurs.

4) The Jade Necklace by Paul Yee and Grace Lin

This is a beautiful story of a young girl who immigrates from China to Canada. She finds a new home in Vancouver and even walks along the famous sea wall. There is a lot of symbolism and figurative language in this book, making it perfect for upper elementary students.

5) Joni: The Lyrical Life of Joni Mitchell by Selina Alko

This picture book biography is filled with stunning illustrations. It details the life of Canadian folk singer Jonie Mitchell. Students will love all of the references to Canadian cities.

There you have it, 5 awesome picture books to teach Canadian History! Are there any others that you would add? Send me a DM on instagram and let me know!

top 5 picture books for teaching Canadian history in the upper elementary classroom

PS. If you’re looking for picture books to teach Canadian Geography, check out this blog post!

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