Photo by Alistair Williamson from FreeImages

There is probably no better year to jump into LEARN’s summertime read suggestions. I mean, think about it: six feet apart, closed borders, and limited access to what makes summer summer? We got time folks, lots of time, to sit in our favourite seat, in our favourite spot, and dive into a good old-fashioned book, as we watch the summer wash away the insanity that was the 2019-2020 school year. Three readers recommend books about trees, which is a testament to how much the natural world is calling. I think we all have permission to forget about the press conferences, the links and links of lesson plans, Zoom meetings and the emptiness of a year end that was untimely ripped from our collective souls. Alas, I digress… Let’s read it all away!


Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel

Louis-Gilles Lalonde

The life of one of the most daring geniuses of all times, reconstructed through his daughter’s letters. The 17th century was no picnic for the rebellious, so seeing that period through the eyes (and pen) of a cloistered nun is going to be… interesting.

Je suis gaucher… et alors? par Michel Piquemal

Julie Paré

Saviez-vous que les gauchers représentent 20 % de la population ? Mon fils fait partie de cette population et je sais qu’être gaucher, dans un monde où tout est conçu spécifiquement pour les droitiers, n’est pas toujours facile ! Gauchers, parents ou enseignants de gauchers, ce documentaire humoristique présente des tas de petits trucs pour mieux vivre cette différence dans la vie de tous les jours.

P.S. La photo a été prise par un gaucher !

To Speak for the Trees by Diana Beresford-Kroeger

Dianne Conrod

I am a big fan of trees, particularly the ones holding up my hammock, a favourite spot for reading! A friend recommended this book in which Beresford-Kroeger, a world-recognized botanist and medical biochemist, blends her scientific knowledge with ancient Celtic plant lore. I look forward to reading it on summer stay-cation.

Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz

Elizabeth Alloul

My 2020 Summer Read is a novel called Palace Walk. Written in 1956, it is the first volume of a trilogy written by Naguib Mahfouz. The story introduces the saga of a Muslim family in Cairo during Egypt’s occupation by British forces in the early 1900s during the country’s transition to Nationalism. I really enjoy reading Historical Fiction and this book was highly recommended to me by my fellow readers. Have a great summer!

Together is Better: A Little Book of Inspiration by Simon Sinek

Craig Bullett

This is a unique book with a couple of things that immediately drew my interest. First, the book contains one scented page. The scent, cleverly named ‘optimism’, was created specifically for this book. Secondly, the song (which has the same name as the book) was handwritten and included on the final page. Another brilliant nugget from the book is the importance of fighting for something we are passionate about, instead of fighting against something that depletes us. We should find something we love and value and put our creative energy into that. Finally, the book is a great reminder to keep things simple and positive. Together is Better is a perfect gift of sunshine during the challenges of COVID-19.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

Kristine Thibeault

The first book of four in the Neapolitan novels series by Elena Ferrante, My Brillant Friend is the perfect summertime read. Set in post-war Naples, the story tells the intense and sometimes heart-wrenching tale of BFF’s Lina and Lenù. Ferrante’s wonderfully written prose about love, loyalty, and a Europe in flux is captivating and definitely hard to put down. The only reason I’m not holding it in this pic is because I lend it out so often!

How to Teach Nature Journaling – Curiosity – Wonder – Attention by John Muir Laws and Emilie Lygren

Christine Truesdale

While doing research online and gathering a collection of books that we could use in an upcoming workshop on journaling across the curriculum, I discovered naturalist, author-illustrator, and educator John Muir Laws. His previous books, The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling as well as The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds are two of my absolute favourites. Given the circumstances, the workshop didn’t quite come together (stay tuned for next year) and perhaps that’s a good thing. Muir Laws has just published How to Teach Nature Journaling co-authored with Emilie Lygren and it’s an absolute gem for educators. It includes over 30 field activities and links to thinking and processes in the sciences, math and the arts, and connections to curriculum, and is the perfect companion to Muir Laws’ other books. So, pencils in hand and feeling inspired, my summer of journaling is set.

Franklin Barbecue by Aaron Franklin and Jordan Mackay

Chris Colley

Interested in learning about authentic Texas BBQ? Been trying forever to smoke a brisket? Succulent ribs? Keep ending up with a pile of coals? Take a breath, Franklin is here. Learn how to BBQ like a pro with a little help from the BBQ king himself. From the smoker, to the wood, to the meat and recipes, it’s time to get your smoke on!

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Paul Rombough

This summer I hope to finish a really great book I started earlier this year, before everything changed, then changed again. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie brought me across the ocean to Nigeria, to London, and then back again to Philadelphia, Baltimore, and even Princeton. Its two main characters, Ifemelu and Obinze, let me live and understand some of their varied experiences of racism, that may indeed be everywhere, but that run in particularly strange ways through the veins of American society and culture. Now, through a more serious lens, I’m anxious to see where they end up, whether they find happiness and each other back home.

Where The Crawdads Sing By Delia Owens

Shelley Armstrong

A coming-of-age fiction about abandonment, mystery, love, hope, trust, and survival. The main character, Kya, envelops your heart as her life journey unfolds. I loved it from beginning to end – a definite summer re-read (for me)!

Rusty Brown by Chris Ware

Michael Clarke

Chris Ware’s graphic novels are like an adult-version of Calvin & Hobbes: I think about the stories and images for years after I’ve read them. If Anton Chekhov had settled on a paintbrush instead of a pen or a gun, he would’ve drawn like Chris Ware.

The Overstory by Richard Powers

Thomas Stenzel

The Overstory by Richard Powers at first seems to be a collection of well-written, thought-provoking short stories about different individuals and their connections to trees. About a third of the way in, the stories start to intertwine. Hard to put down. Read this book under a shady tree.

The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield

Carolyn Buteau

Did you know that as a child, our beloved Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield was afraid of the dark? Through his words, he encourages children to overcome their fears and dream the impossible. During the recent COVID-19 related confinement, Colonel Hadfield even published a video of him reading his book.

And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss

Michael Canuel

This book is a must-read (if you have grandchildren) and I will be reading it multiple times. It deals with complex epistemological issues tied to knowing and how our perceptions influence how we interpret reality. The language is challenging so have your thesaurus handy dandy.

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

Rosie Himo

This is a story about two womens’ journey as slaves in the Old South during the late 18th century. A gripping and evocative read. 👍

Blanket Toss Under Midnight Sun by Paul Seesequasis

Sylwia Bielec

This book was a recommendation from an Indigenous scholar – as a way for non-indigenous people to learn from the unheard stories of life in Indigenous Canada. Seesequasis started a project of collecting candid images and stories as a way to cope with the horrors revealed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This book collects the best images and shines a sacred light onto the mundane.

To Speak for the Trees by Diana Beresford-Kroeger

Katherine Dimas

To Speak for the Trees is a book that will take you on a journey from Ireland to the boreal forest into Ontario where author Diana Beresford-Kroeger now lives tending to the trees she cares for and studies. This is not just a book about trees. It combines ancient wisdom layered over memoir with a look at the present and an eye to the future. A must-read for all, particularly in this time where we could all use the benefits that nature and trees can offer.

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders
The Year of Less - Summer Reads

Kerry Cule

Or: how I stopped shopping, gave away my belongings, and discovered life is worth more than anything you can buy in a store
Believe it or not, I picked up this non-fiction book from my local library before COVID-19 hit Canada. I was inspired by how Flanders (a fellow Canadian) changed her shopping and consuming habits and embraced the Zero Waste movement. I found the book contained a good mix of personal reflections and practical guidance.

Have a lovely summer, everyone!