The best children's books on the First Peoples of the West Coast and other natural wonders

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm passionate about nature, our impact on it and the people who best know how to be its companion – Indigenous peoples. I grew up on B.C.'s west coast, swimming with seals and otters. That inspires me to protect the land and to write and draw about it. As the author/illustrator of over 70 books I've been lucky to be able to present my thoughts on many topics. I learned early on to do my research and work with rigorous editors. With P'eska, I relied on members of the community I wrote about. I know I'm speaking to young kids so honesty is paramount.


I wrote...

P'esk'a and the First Salmon Ceremony

By Scot Ritchie,

Book cover of P'esk'a and the First Salmon Ceremony

What is my book about?

It’s the day of the first salmon ceremony, and P'ésk'a is excited to celebrate. His community, the Sts'ailes people, give thanks to the river and the salmon it brings by commemorating the first salmon of the season.

Framed as an exploration of what life was like one thousand years ago, P'ésk'a and the First Salmon Ceremony describes the customs of the Sts'ailes people, an Indigenous group who have lived on what is now the Harrison River in British Columbia for the last 10,000 years. Includes an introductory letter from Chief William Charlie, an illustrated afterword, and a glossary.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of This is the Boat That Ben Built

Scot Ritchie Why did I love this book?

Recommending kid's books means I'll be doing a bit of reminiscing and this book leads the pack.

As a child I'd float my toy boats down the stream and it was always an adventure to see what animals and plant life I met. This book does the same thing. The parade of animals and the sing-song story is a perfect vehicle for young readers to discover the world as a place to protect, enjoy, and involve yourself in.

As with all good kids books, there is an essential balance between the story and the illustrations. Both creators invite readers into a new world where Bob builds a boat and takes us along for a ride. 

By Jen Lynn Bailey, Maggie Zeng (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This is the Boat That Ben Built as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

A humorous exploration of a northern river ecosystem with an intrepid young boatsman is paired with an extended author's note about its ecology and key species.

Young Ben sets out to explore the river equipped with a sturdy boat, some sample-collection gear, and his scientific curiosity. Along the way he meets a black bear taking a swim, a moose all wobbly and slim, a goose with a gorgeous grin, and a heron all proper and prim...but things really start happening after the owl HOOs loudly on a whim.

With fresh, easygoing verse from author Jen Lynn Bailey and art full…


Book cover of West Coast Wild: A Nature Alphabet

Scot Ritchie Why did I love this book?

I live on the West Coast of B.C., just like Deborah Hodge, so this book resonates with me.

The cover describes it as a Nature Alphabet book. It's that and much more. Each letter is followed by a description of different life forms found on the shore or in the sea. And that's what makes it special for me, there's a balance of recognition and discovery.

Reading the poetic writing and looking at the painterly illustration brings me back to my childhood turning over rocks, discovering starfish and clams in the endless tidal pools. Again what makes this book work is the perfect balance of art and words. 

By Deborah Hodge, Karen Reczuch (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked West Coast Wild as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Celebrate the Pacific west coast with this gorgeous nature alphabet book.

This stunning nature alphabet book explores the fascinating ecosystem of the Pacific west coast - a magnificent area that combines an ancient rainforest, a rugged beach and a vast, open ocean, and where whales, bears, wolves, eagles and a rich variety of marine species thrive in an interconnected web of life.

Author Deborah Hodge has spent more than forty years on the west coast, frequently visiting the Pacific Rim region, and she knows it intimately. From A to Z she describes in vivid language the rainforest, ocean and beach,…


Book cover of Emily Carr: At the Edge of the World

Scot Ritchie Why did I love this book?

Going to the Vancouver Art Gallery when I was a kid I saw my first Emily Carr painting and it drew me in with its dark beauty.

This book brings to life the story of Emily Carr, a talented painter and (although the word wouldn't have been used then) ecologist. She passionately pursued her art in ways proper young ladies of the time just didn't do. She revered the First Nations people and their cultures. The gift was returned when she received her own honourary name, Klee Wyck (Laughing One) from the Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka) people.

I love this book because of its honesty, it is about a person and a place, firmly rooted in a love of nature.

By Jo Ellen Bogart, Maxwell Newhouse (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Emily Carr as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for the 2005-2006 Red Cedar Book Award, Nonfiction

Selected as Honour Book by the Children's Literature Roundtable Information Book of the Year

The brilliant artist Emily Carr lived at the edge. When she was born, in 1871, Victoria, British Columbia was a small, insular place. She was at the edge of a society that expected well-bred young ladies to marry. For years, she was at the edge of the world of artists she longed to join.

Emily Carr’s life was not an easy one. She struggled against a family that did not approve of her art and against poor…


Book cover of Raven Squawk, Orca Squeak

Scot Ritchie Why did I love this book?

I wanted to include a board book in my recommendations because finding books that speak to pre-schoolers is a real gift.

Roy Henry Vickers, a well-known First Nations artist, employs warm colours and clear simple shapes to convey his love for animals, the land, and his culture. Words are used sparingly which makes us enjoy their sound. The story reads like in a poem, it's a sensory experience. Every page is a new setting, often with Indigenous imagery worked in.

Raven Squawk, Orca Squeak feels like an invitation to come and visit.

By Roy Henry Vickers, Robert Budd,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Raven Squawk, Orca Squeak as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 1, 2, 3, and 4.

What is this book about?

With bright and bold illustrations by celebrated Indigenous artist Roy Henry Vickers, this sturdy board book introduces iconic sounds of the West Coast and supports the language development of babies and toddlers. From the “geek geek” of the eagle, to the creak and rustle of cedar branches in the wind, to the sacred drumming of a potlatch and the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean, the rhythmic text, vibrant illustrations and glossy tactile finish of Raven Squawk, Orca Squeak will delight the very youngest readers.


Book cover of Gubby Builds a Boat

Scot Ritchie Why did I love this book?

This might be a bit of a stretch from the others in my list but I wanted to include it because it's inspirational to me as a creator.

It takes place on the West Coast and it champions living with the sea and surroundings. There is a long history of tugboats in BC and it was something I grew up watching (and waving at as they chugged by). Even as a kid I was amazed that such a tiny boat could achieve so much. It was also an inspiration for one of my books (Tug, a Log Booms Journey) about the fascinating world of logging and tugboats.

By Gary Kent, Kim La Fave (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gubby Builds a Boat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

This follow-up to the bestselling book Fishing with Gubby (Harbour Publishing, 2010) continues the adventures of Gubby, a commercial salmon fisherman, who heads home to his village on the Sunshine Coast at the end of another long season. His beloved old boat, the Flounder, is worn out and he commissions a Japanese-Canadian boat builder in historic Steveston to build him a new one. The story follows the stages of building a boat from selecting plans to preparing the wood to laying the keel to final finishing and launching.

Combining the masterful storytelling of Gary Kent and the striking illustrations of…


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Book cover of The Twins of Auschwitz: The inspiring true story of a young girl surviving Mengele's hell

Lisa Rojany Author Of The Twins of Auschwitz: The inspiring true story of a young girl surviving Mengele's hell

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I have published over 50 books, including award-winning and bestselling titles. I am also a publishing executive and editor with 20+ years of professional experience. My latest The Twins of Auschwitz: The Inspiring True Story of  Young Girl Surviving Mengele’s Hell, with Eva Kor, got a stellar review by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and is an international bestseller. As well as spearheading four publishing startups, I have run my own business, Editorial Services of L.A. I was Editorial/Publishing Director for Golden Books, Price Stern Sloan, Intervisual Books, Hooked on Phonics, and more. I am also the Publisher & Editor in Chief of NY Journal Of Books, the premier online-only book review site.

Lisa's book list on picture books for all ages

What is my book about?

This is the Inspiring true story of a young girl surviving Mengele’s hell. This is an incisive, harrowing, and touching memoir of Eva Mozes Kor and her twin sister Miriam, who are sent to Auschwitz only to be torn from their parents and given to Josef Mengele, "The Angel of Death," for his evil and damaging experiments on human subjects.

In the voice of the ten-year-old Eva, we learn about what life was like in the death camps and how a child survives when food, water, comfort, and care are absent. At times heartbreaking and at other times a triumph of the will of a child to survive, this is a memoir that is not easily forgotten.

By Lisa Rojany, Eva Mozes Kor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Twins of Auschwitz as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

The Nazis spared their lives because they were twins.

In the summer of 1944, Eva Mozes Kor and her family arrived at Auschwitz.

Within thirty minutes, they were separated. Her parents and two older sisters were taken to the gas chambers, while Eva and her twin, Miriam, were herded into the care of the man who became known as the Angel of Death: Dr. Josef Mengele. They were 10 years old.

While twins at Auschwitz were granted the 'privileges' of keeping their own clothes and hair, they were also subjected to Mengele's sadistic medical experiments. They…


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