The Hub Inspiring book recommendations for Family Literacy Day

Inspiring book recommendations for Family Literacy Day

There’s no telling how far the simple act of reading a book can take you in life, so all the more reason to recommit yourself to reading with your loved ones on Family Literacy Day, Jan. 27.

The theme this year is Travel the World Together, which resonates here at Athabasca University, a leader in open and distance education with learners in nearly every corner of the globe.

We asked several AU faculty members to talk about the family-friendly books that have inspired them in their academic careers, and put together a short reading list. We hope you and your family can find value in these books… even if they don’t pursue an academic career!

Charlotte's Web

“Charlotte’s Web. Our school librarian and read it to us during library periods. It was the first time I experienced a story in which the protagonist dies. I guess it was the start of me learning about death.”

Dr. Jeff Chang, Associate Professor, Faculty of Health Disciplines

“The first time I read Charlotte’s Web was in Grade 3. I loved that book and reread it at least 12 times. For me this book was about hope and potential. I loved the descriptive prose, the strong female character as depicted by the elegant Charlotte, who dies but leaves the world a better place for having been here, and a legacy that is continued by the next generation. Then we have Wilbur, some awesome pig, who was completely underestimated and Fern, another strong female, who was determined that Wilbur deserved a chance. What more can you ask for other than dragons or a magic wand? The message that everyone has value and some awesome if you take the time to look for it still guides me.”

– Margaret Rauliuk, Academic Coordinator, Faculty of Health Disciplines.

The Value of Learning: The Story of Marie Curie

“When I was young, I had a book about Marie Curie, The Value of Learning: The Story of Marie Curie, that I would read over and over and over again. It inspired an interest in science, and that interest ultimately led me to a career in STEM. Although the microbiology work I do is different than the work for which Marie Curie became famous, reading about an inspiring woman scientist has had a profound and lasting impact.”

Dr. Shauna Zenteno, Dean, Faculty of Science and Technology

The Doll Family

“I grew up surrounded by books and reading. My parents were both teachers as were two of my aunts and my uncle Cory. One of my earliest book memories is The Doll Family – front cover had Dad reading to young boy, in my mind my younger brother, with me listening closely.”

Dr. Gwen Rempel, Associate Professor, Faculty of Health Disciplines

Nurse Nancy

“I also loved my Nurse Nancy book. It came with actual Band-Aids. I can still remember their smell. I paged through this book over and over again. I never did have to wear a white nursing cap, thank goodness. And, I had the stethoscope around my neck when I became a pediatric cardiology nurse.”

Dr. Gwen Rempel, Associate Professor, Faculty of Health Disciplines

The Stars: A New Way to See Them

“When I was in about Grade 3, there was a book in the school library called The Stars: A New Way to See Them, with a kind of cartoon approach, nice art, and nice star charts. This helped me learn a lot about astronomy at a young age. As a professional astronomer of around age 40, I noticed that the name of the author was H. A. Rey, and I always thought of him as being famous for writing an astronomy book. How it took me so long to recognize the author of the famous Curious George children’s books mystified me. The Stars by H. A. Rey is still in print and at that late age I bought a copy of this children’s book.”

Dr. Martin Connors, Professor, Faculty of Science and Technology

Suki's Kimono

“My favourite book to read my daughters was Suki’s Kimono by Chieri Uegaki and Stéphane Jorisch. The colourful illustrations brought to life the story of a Japanese girl who, despite her sisters’ cajoling and classmates’ teasing, wears a kimono to school on the first day. Suki loses herself in dance when she talks about a summer festival, she and her Obāchan attended. Cultural pride and being unabashedly herself instilled in my girls, who are mixed-race, a conviction to be themselves.”

Dr. Gina Wong, Professor, Faculty of Health Disciplines

The Phantom Tollbooth

“The Phantom Tollbooth is, essentially, a book about how to live well. It is funny, smart, engaging, and profound. It still feeds my passion for philosophy, for invention, for writing, and for learning, all of which I am lucky enough to now do for a living. I love it, I own 3 or 4 copies (I keep the less loved ones for lending), and I’ve read it at least 20 or 30 times—from listening on my father’s knee at about the age of five or six to reading it to my grandson now. I’ve cited it in all my books. I named my first son after its protagonist. It changed my life and continues to do so. Some people have Bibles or Korans: I have The Phantom Tollbooth.”

Dr. Jon Dron, Professor, Faculty of Science and Technology

The Foundation series

“Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series is the inspiration for my career in artificial intelligence. Tackling a galaxy-spanning premise, the books in the series interweave several stories about the C/FE (carbon/iron) culture where robots and humans work together to shape and nudge societal dynamics.”

Dr. Vive Kumar, Associate Dean, Faculty of Science and Technology

  • January 26, 2021