Stretch Out in the Shade & Read


When my husband is deployed, my parents like to step in and help. However, since they live in Ontario, we have to be creative on what that help looks like. One thing that works for us is to have them read my boys bedtime stories over the internet. My children love snuggling up on the couch and listening to my mom read to them. If you love reading with your grandchildren, here are a few new books you can try.

A current favourite for my boys is Linty: A Pocketful of Adventure, a graphic novel by Mike Shiell (Kids Can Press, 2022), which is about a little piece of lint who lives in the pocket of a pair of blue jeans. Linty enjoys cardio, sightseeing (the blue is lovely) and playing Solo Marco Polo. But one day something changes and Linty’s world is filled up with many new friends like Shelly, Sandy, Penny and Pizza. I was not expecting a book about lint to be exciting, but after reading it 100 times in two days, I can assure you, it’s hilarious. My boys laugh from page one until the very end. The pictures and text are great. For ages 5 to 9.

Another story you might enjoy is Itzel and the Ocelot by Rachel Katstaller (Kids Can Press, 2022). In this story Itzel and her Nana are desperately waiting for rain. To pass the time, Nana tells Itzel stories, including one about the Giant Snake who brings the rain. But still no rain falls. When they’ve almost run out of food, Itzel decides to sneak off into the jungle to find a snake so it will rain. On her way she is joined by an Ocelot who guides her to the river. This is a sweet story with delightful images about the love shared between a grandmother and granddaughter. For ages 4 to 8.

Franz’s Phantasmagorical Machine by Beth Anderson and illustrated by Caroline Hamel (Kids Can Press, 2022), explores the true-story of Franz Gsellmann. Franz wants to create something, but his family needs him to work on the farm so he isn’t able to go to school. Still, he collects items that others might see as trash and works to turn them into something magical. What? He’ll figure that out when he’s finished. Let this story inspire you to tinker and build your own phantasmagorical machine with your grandchildren. For ages 5 to 9.

The next book is Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press, 2018). You might have to break this novel down into smaller pieces and read it over a series of days, if you’re going to read it with your grandchildren. The story starts with Louisiana’s Granny waking her up in the middle of the night and telling her they have to leave. When Louisiana wakes up in the car hours later she learns that Granny has no intention of ever going back to their home, because it is time for them to face the curse of sundering that has plagued their family for generations. DiCamillo does an amazing job of getting into the mind of a twelve-year-old girl, and leaving us with a beautiful and sad story about love, abandonment, learning who you want to be and finding your home. For ages 8 to 12.

The final story is I, Cosmo by Carlie Sorosiak (Walker Books, 2019), which is told from the perspective of an arthritic golden retriever who wants nothing more than to help his human brother Max. Max’s parents are fighting a lot and Max is worried that if they get divorced, he and Cosmo will be separated. So he decides to enter into a dance competition with Cosmo: the grand prize is a movie role. Max believes that if his parents see how perfect he and Cosmo are together in the film, they will have to let them stay together always. For ages 8 to 12.

Whether or not you’re able to read these books with your grandchildren or you simply gift them, I hope you are able to enjoy their company this summer. Perhaps you’ll even get to go to the beach with them, because one of the best places to read a book is lounging on the sand, listening to the sound of the ocean.

Christina Van Starkenberg
Christina Van Starkenberg
Christina Van Starkenburg lives in Victoria with her husband, children, and cat. She is the author of One Tiny Turtle: A Story You Can Colour and many articles. To read more of her work and learn about her upcoming books, check out her website at