Quilchena Reading Challenge begins again!

Welcome to the first Quilchena Reading Challenge of 2020-2021!

As we all know, September was a bit different this year and my focus was elsewhere so I wasn’t able to publish a reading challenge last month. We will start with the October challenge and now that our routines are beginning to settle in, we can all get back to our reading.

The Quilchena Reading Challenges are for all students, teachers, and parents. The categories are designed to be applicable to any and all reading levels. As a reader, you get to choose how long, how hard, and in what format the books are to complete this challenge. I trust you to make good choices for yourself.

Start Something New

Even though it’s not September anymore, we are still settling into this slightly different newness of a school year. This month, take an opportunity to embrace new things and read something new, all from the comfort of a familiar, cozy reading spot.

    1. A book about a subject (like an animal) you know nothing about.

2. A story or non-fiction book about a refugee or immigrant experience.

    1. The first book in a series.
    1. A story or non-fiction book about or set during autumn.
    1. A book of short stories (you don’t have to read all of them.)
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Spotlight on: getting caught reading

One of our most beloved library monitors is finishing grade seven and going off to high school. Emma has been a dedicated library monitor and is a Reader Extraordinaire! She has completed every monthly Quilchena Reading Challenge, as well as this June bonus “Get Caught Reading” photo challenge. She also tells me that she’s almost finished the Read Harder 2020 reaching challenge, which is designed for adults and is meant to last the whole year. Amazing!
And without further ado…

Get Caught Reading

I am an anti-racist educator

art by @maxine.sarah.art

There are some events happening right now, mostly in the United States, that are very upsetting. There are people who have been hurting for a long time and are trying desperately to make their voices heard. I won’t describe the events in detail here, rather I will let families choose how much of this specific story is known in your homes.

One thing that I believe is not optional, especially for those of us who are in positions of the most privilege (white, cis, able-bodied, neurotypical, and whose people come from a Christian background), is that we work to make space for stories of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) and other folx who live within the structures of oppression in our society.

There is racism in Vancouver, and there is racism in our schools. There has been, in some way or another, always. In the last couple of months people with Asian family heritage have been targets of escalated verbal and physical violence. That racism is present and active in our city and schools is something we all need to understand and accept before we will be able to create spaces that are truly safe and supportive for every single one of our students and their families. I want every family at Quilchena to know that acts of racism or any other acts of oppression are not okay in our community.

This year I started working on a diversity audit of our English fiction collection in the Quilchena Library. This means that I have started gathering information about how diverse (or narrow) the selection of stories is in our library. This will be an ongoing project for me as I work my way through our French and English fiction, our French and English easy chapter books, our French and English readers, and our French and English picture books. I will be devoting a significant portion of my library budget over the next few years to improving the balance of voices represented in our library collection, specifically focusing on #ownvoices titles.

There are a lot of great lists being published right now that can help us find books written by and about people who are not always represented on our home and school library, and classroom shelves, but who are definitely represented in our community. I have also found some helpful tips for talking to kids, particularly kids living with systemic privilege like my own daughter, about racism.

If you would like any help pursuing these topics at home or at school, I am happy to chat or host a more formal conversation about it.

Book Lists

We Are Kid Lit Collective: 2020 Summer Reading List

Picture Books about race, racism and resistance

Middle grade #ownvoices books

Other reading, mostly for parents

Why read diversely?

“The Top 5 Reasons Well Meaning White Parents Do Not Discuss Race With Their White Children”

Talking to young children about race.

“Your Kids Aren’t Too Young to Talk about Race: resource roundup”

Poetry Month Day 25

Poets exist all around us. I guarantee that you know someone who practices their poetry writing.

Image may contain: 1 person, close-upMy friend Amanda is a poet. She teaches grade seven at another school in Vancouver and performs her poems at events around the city. Her ability to choose a topic and to capture her thoughts, reactions, and feelings impresses me every time I hear or read her poetry.

This year for Poetry Month, while I have been writing daily posts for our Quilchena Library blog, Amanda has been sharing a new poem every day on Facebook. I asked her permission to share a few of them with you:

From day 15:

Being curious

I’m cultivating my curiosity
As much as I possibly can.
I’m feeding it questions and opinions,
I’m making fertilizer of my certainties,
Reminding myself that the unknown isn’t necessarily unknowable
Or foreboding.
It could be limitless,
Cultivating this curiosity gives me labour to do
In this untethered time.
I yearn for the sweat of doing.
When I start spinning
I remind, rebody myself
So that I sit in curiosity
Then dig deep into the rich, rich, earthy soil
Of that garden.


From day 22:


My thoughts as they zing around bumping into each other in most unexpected ways, forging unlikely bonds.
My feelings as they tangle, roll into each other, change colour and texture.
My body as it desires, unwilling to follow the rules I have set out as it pulls me through the world.
My desires as they lead me into unknowns and all too familiars, asking me for blind allegiance.
My intellect, my warrior heart dragging my battered self into the arena again and again.
My softenesses becoming softer.
My hunger rampant.
My joy explosive.


From day 24:

What matters

Tell me the story that matters.
Take my hand, lead me through
The marshes of what scares you.
Allow me to wander there, with you.
I can just be there,
I can move my way through, gently.
Lean your tired head on my heart;
It is strong, practiced.
Let the rhythm root you in some kind of peace.
Write your love letters onto my skin,
Draw out the meanings
Let the words ramble their ways across my body
To take up residence where there is resonance.
Share the edges,
Expose the dangers of your unknowing,
Lead me into your murkiness.
I am safe and strong.


I hope that you try writing your own poetry sometime, if you don’t already. Grab an old notebook, or get yourself a fancy new one, (it doesn’t matter what it looks like, as long as you fill it with your writing) and start trying out ideas. Don’t through anything away; just keep stretching, adding, building. Have fun!

Poetry Month Day 14

Today is the day we are really getting into our online teaching and learning at Quilchena. It’s going to be unlike any school any of us have ever done. Some parts will be hard. Other parts will be joyful. We are here together and will be together until the end.

The Mind Dances

The mind dances
when the body lets it

And when the body cannot
the mind dances within

But sometimes they move together
and together sway
and fly together
and dance and sing

And then it is indeed
on enchanting thing

by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters

Today (Sept 30) is Orange Shirt Day. Quilchena students have been learning about and reflecting upon our history of residential schools through literature. Quilchena Elementary is located on the traditional and unceeded lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh people.

Orange Shirt Day library display
Orange Shirt Day display in the Quilchena library.

The information in this post is quoted and paraphrased from the Orange Shirt Day website:

In 2013 there was a reunion and healing ceremony held at St. Joseph Mission (SJM) Residential School (1891-1981) in the Cariboo. It brought together former students and their families from the Secwepemc, Tsilhqot’in, Southern Dakelh and St’at’imc Nations.

The events were designed to commemorate the residential school experience, to witness and honour the healing journey of the survivors and their families, and to commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation. Chief Justice Murray Sinclair challenged all of the participants to keep the reconciliation process alive, as a result of the realization that every former student had similar stories.

Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of this project. As spokesperson for the Reunion group leading up to the events, former student Phyllis (Jack) Webstad told her story of her first day at residential school when her shiny new orange shirt, bought by her grandmother, was taken from her as a six-year old girl.

The annual Orange Shirt Day on September 30th opens the door to global conversation on all aspects of Residential Schools. It is an opportunity to create meaningful discussion about the effects of Residential Schools and the legacy they have left behind. A discussion all Canadians can tune into and create bridges with each other for reconciliation. A day for survivors to be reaffirmed that they matter, and so do those that have been affected. Every Child Matters, even if they are an adult, from now on.

The date was chosen because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and because it is an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the coming school year. It is an opportunity for First Nations, local governments, schools and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come.

On this day of September 30th, we call upon humanity to listen with open ears to the stories of survivors and their families, and to remember those that didn’t make it.

Families are welcome to come to the library this week and borrow a book from the display to read together at home.