(A version of this article first appeared in Kingston Neighbours Magazine, February, 2023.)
What are YOU doing on February 20th this year?
The third Monday in February is a holiday in most places in North America. In the United States, for example, it’s President’s Day. In Manitoba, it’s Louis Riel Day and in Prince Edward Island, it’s called Islander Day. However, in Ontario, as well as British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, the third Monday in February is better known as Family Day. Created as a provincial statutory holiday in 2008, Family Day is billed as a time for Ontarians to spend with loved ones.
I’ll be honest though: my family hasn’t really gotten the hang of Family Day yet. Part of the problem is that my spouse is a federal employee and doesn’t get the day off; a situation I’m sure many of you also face.
Nonetheless, I always try to do something special with our kids on Family Day. Sometimes I take them to an afternoon movie. Sometimes I take them out for lunch or a special treat. Sometimes we visit grandparents.
If I had to start again though, I would definitely build some simple Family Day traditions around my favourite pastime — reading! Wouldn’t it be nice to visit a bookstore or have family reading time as a tradition on Family Day, for example? Let’s try to make that a thing: #familydayreadingtime!
There are many wonderful and diverse books about families that you can enjoy with your kids. Here are some of my recommendations for all ages that you can share with your loved ones.
The Family Book, by Todd Parr — I love this picture book. In fact, I love anything by bestselling author Todd Parr. His bright, colourful illustrations and his simple, uplifting text powerfully convey the message of acceptance and inclusiveness to young children and parents alike.
The Family Book specifically celebrates many different types of families, including adopted, one-parent, step- and LGBTQ+ families. Highly recommended for Family Day reading!
The Vanderbeekers series, by Karina Yan Glaser – Set in Harlem about a large, biracial family, this multi-award-winning family narrative follows the adventures of 5 precocious siblings: Isa and Jessie (twins), Oliver, Hyacinth and Laney. Warm, humorous and always heartfelt, the Vanderbeeker clan, their pets and their neighbours will delight and enchant readers of all ages. Great for family read-alouds or for middle-grade readers (ages 8 – 12).
As for the teens in your lives, I recommend We Are All Made of Molecules, by Susin Nielsen (former Degrassi Junior High writer), and White Lies, a debut novel by Canadian author and teacher Sara de Waard just published last year. Nielsen’s book humorously addresses the challenges and joys of blended families, while de Waard’s novel takes a more serious look at one teen’s attempt to heal from multiple family tragedies and traumas.
February 20th is quickly approaching. No matter what you read, I hope you enjoy some #familydayreadingtime!
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