February is I Love To Read Month and nothing makes me more excited than encouraging others to explore through books. Libraries have always been special places for me and the different books and series from my childhood and youth definitely had an impact on who I am. I believe that kids that experience poverty especially deserve opportunities to imagine circumstances that are different than the ones they currently see. It’s good for kids (& all of us) to imagine other places, other people’s perspectives, learn lessons through stories and see ourselves reflected in adventures that take us out of this world!

Here are some of the books that really shaped me into the person I am today:

Animorphs Book Series
This book series by K.A. Applegate truly shaped so much of my perspectives. It focusses around five teens with super powers who must save the world from slug like aliens that take over our brains. The thing I love about this book series is that it rotates who the narrator is in every book forcing you to imagine many different perspectives and ways to look at the same situation. My favourite character was Tobias.

The Truth About Stories
Thomas King wrote this story as part of the CBC Massey Lecture series. It really spoke to me with a beautiful structure that wove into each chapter and presented important historical information that allowed me to reflect on my own identity! It is fun to read and is a go to for non Indigenous people who want to learn more about the history of Indigenous people on Canada.

Chronicles of Narnia
This series of seven books by C.S. Lewis kicked my imagination into overdrive when I didn’t have a lot of friends to socialize with when moving around as a pre teen. I loved learning about the different worlds and especially the cool ways that this reality interacted with and bridged into the awesomeness of Narnia. I grew attached to a world and then learned intense lessons about imagination, war and sacrifice. My favourite character is High King Peter Pevensie.

In Search of April Raintree
This book by Beatrice Mosionier shook me to my core when I first read it. I was enthralled and could not put it down and finished it in only a couple of days. I was fascinated to see North End and Winnipeg places that were familiar to me and characters that all looked and sounded like my upbringing and experiences. I relate very strongly to the character Cheryl Raintree.

The Four Agreements
This book by Don Miguel Ruiz is easy to read and has many important lessons to help us live a good life. It’s a book that me and my brother Wayne loved so much that we both kept buying multiple copies and giving them away to others. The four agreements are: be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions & always do your best. I like to open this book to random pages and rad a few paragraphs at a time, always feels like just the thing I need to hear.

Building a Movement to End The New Jim Crow: an organizing guide
I already wrote a post about this one, but it’s again, easy to understand and an important message. I especially recommend it for people who are beginning to do community organizing as it identifies four different roles that we need in a successful movement. I believe this book can help us gain appreciation for people who fill different roles and deploy different tactics we may not agree with in community organizing.

Honourable mentions: Fighting For Space by Travis Lupick, North End Love Songs by Katherena Vermette, 1984 & Animal Farm by George Orwell, Equus by Peter Schaffer

What are the books that made you? What are the books that impacted you as a child that you still think about today? What did lessons did they teach you? What dreams or ideas did they unleash? Let’s encourage everyone around us to clear our busy schedules, turn off our devices, go to a library and find the time to read something this month!

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