I live in Canada. While we do have lots of books, tv shows, bands, etc that are recognized globally, majority of the media content that we come across on a daily basis is from our neighbours to the south. Because of this, many of our great entertainers, inventions, and stories are often overshadowed by things like the Presidential Election, Hate Crimes, and what Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s kids’ playroom looks like.
So whenever possible, I like to bring Canadian contributions, especially books, into the spotlight. You can see some evidence of this from past posts I’ve written, like my Forest of Reading trilogy(which is about the Blue Spruce, Silver Birch Fiction, and Red Maple reading programs),a campaign to save Anne With An E, (which is a show based off of the Anne of Green Gables book series), and a list of my top five favourite Eric Walters books.
Speaking of which, it’s because of Eric Walters that a new national day, debuting for the first time on February 19th, 2020, was born: I Read Canadian Day.
After seeing a shocking decrease in the amount of Canadian-authored books being sold each year, Eric Walters met with members from the Ontario Library Association, the Forest Of Reading, the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, and the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators, and Performers, to find a way to get more people to read Canadian books. The result was I Read Canadian Day. On I Read Canadian Day, students, families, and everyone in between are encouraged to spend 15 minutes reading a Canadian book. The purpose of this is to not only discover incredible Canadian books, but to celebrate the diversity and abundance of the books that have come out of this country since its existence.
Though my school did not participate in I Read Canadian Day this year, I still have lots of other places I can go to that are participating. Lots of bookstores in my area are doing something to mark the day, and local libraries are promoting Canadian books through displays, posters, and social media posts. But if I want, I can take part in I Read Canadian Day from the comfort of my own home. All I need is a Canadian book, and I’m good to go!
So, in spirit of I Read Canadian Day, I am going to introduce you to a Canadian trilogy, set during WW2, that I’ve been enjoying for years.
If you didn’t know, I LOVE history, and historical fiction is by far my favourite book genre. Within that genre, one of my favourite events to read about is World War Two. Unlike most other events, almost the entire world became involved in the war at some point. Thus, there are hundreds of different stories and experiences to read about. But every time I think I’ve heard everything that happened during the war, I learn about something new that takes me completely by surprise.
Stolen Child, Making Bombs For Hitler, and Underground Soldier by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch:
When the German Armed Forces invaded European country after European country, they noticed that many of the children had similar characteristics to their own aryan ideals. Convinced that these children did in fact have German blood, the Nazis kidnapped them, forced them forget their families and heritage, and sent them to be raised by Nazi foster families. This horrifying program was called the Lebensborn program, and is one of the main focuses in the trilogy. Each book in the trilogy is told from a different Ukrainian child’s point of view.
Stolen Child(or Stolen Girl)is told from Nadia’s perspective. She starts a new life in Canada, but keeps getting flashbacks to the time she spent living as a Nazi, which she’s tried to forget. Throughout the book, she tries to figure out who she used to be as a child in Ukraine, and who she is now.
Making Bombs For Hitler is told from Lida’s perspective. Lida was sent to a labour camp, and found herself being forced to make explosives for the German War Effort. Faced with her own survival, Lida must figure out which choices will save her, and which could have deadly consequences.
Underground Soldier(or The War Below) is told from Luka’s perspective. He managed to escape the labour camp, but had to leave his best friend Lida behind. While on the run, he stumbles into the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, and joins their resistance movement. But this puts him in the line of fire, and his life in danger.
All three books paint a vivid picture of these unheard of groups and programs, and really give a glimpse into the lives of these children as they fight for survival. The Lebensborn program and the terrible things that happened at the labour camp horrified me, but now I’m wondering why such an important part of the war’s history remained hidden. Perhaps, like Canadian contributions being overshadowed by American ones, these wartime stories were overshadowed by the war as a whole.
On a lighter note, I highly encourage you to participate in I Read Canadian Day. There are tons of fictional stories that you might have never heard of, but reading them will help you discover some of your new favourite Canadian authors. And reading about the things that happened in some of these non-fiction books will make you feel proud of our country. Others might do, well, the opposite. But regardless of the subject matter, or genre of the book, reading Canadian books, even if only for 15 minutes, is a great way to discover new books, and an enjoyable way to spend part of a day.