Share this page 


Your guide to recently released books and other teaching resources.

For additional reviews of French-language resources, visit With the exception of some classroom sets, items reviewed are available on loan from the Margaret Wilson Library at the College. Contact us at 416-961-8800(toll-free in Ontario 1-888-534-2222), ext 679 or email

An image of the book cover for 'Dramatic Play.'' The cover image is a child jumping in the air.

Dramatic Play in the Early Years

By Elizabeth Coffman

Dramatic play is what children do. It is how they make sense of the world. And although it is often thought of as just “for fun,” it is, in fact, one of the most valuable teaching and learning tools available to teachers. Dramatic play is not like the theatre — no scripts, no rehearsals and no audience. Rather, it is exclusively about the process, about diving into an event to explore what it means as children bump up against obstacles, mini-dramas and pathways to a richer play experience. Dramatic play offers students safe situations where they can investigate ideas, and at the same time provides a springboard into curriculum, which helps learning come to life.

In dramatic play, the teacher takes on an active role as both facilitator and playmate. Just as much planning is required as for regular lesson plans, and preparing a class for a dramatic play experience takes practice. But Coffman does an excellent job outlining specific strategies to guide students toward a full class experience while maintaining focus and control. Rooted as they are in the safe space of their classrooms, children can then be encouraged to explore voice, characterization, dance and stillness while participating in what they do best — playing.

Dramatic play, when used in the ways explained in this book, can be applied to most subject areas including social studies, history and science, and it connects to all aspects of literature and art. It can promote authentic research opportunities at all age levels and would work wonderfully in inquiry-based learning environ- ments. Dramatic Play in the Early Years is suitable for anyone teaching elementary students and looking to make learning more fun, not to mention much more meaningful and engaging.

Janet Cottreau, OCT, is an occasional elementary school teacher with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.

Dramatic Play in the Early Years, Pembroke Publishers, Markham, 2015, softcover, ISBN 978-1-55138-307-1, 96 pages, $24.95,

An image of the book cover for 'Stolen Lives.' The cover image is of a group of people.

Stolen Lives

By Facing History and Ourselves

Stolen Lives is a primer on the history of residential schools and the enduring negative impact they have had on the Indigenous peoples in Canada. It’s a book we all should have had in high school and it is the one that every pre-service program should be using in the bachelor of education degree.

Whether for teachers of Native Studies or the Intermediate-Senior Additional Basic Qualification, or for high school students at any level social studies course, Stolen Lives is an invaluable resource. Through the use of short reading selections (most are  only one to two pages and many are first-person accounts or direct quotes from historical documents), the book acts as a catalyst for dialogue. Each passage is followed by guiding discussion questions to encourage readers and students to think deeply and critically.

As important as this resource is, Stolen Lives doesn’t mention the inaction of successive Canadian governments to implement any of the recommendations from the 20-year-old Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, nor does it explore the deeply emotional and cultural damage done to residential school survivors. This is a conscious decision by the editors, as they are fully aware that a text like this cannot do justice to survivors’ experiences. With this in mind, Stolen Lives still delivers a powerful learning experience in its attempt to capture the degree of atrocity that is the cultural genocide of Canada’s Indigenous people. Directors, superintendents and curriculum planners involved in Ontario’s education system should consider promoting and making this book available to staff and students.

Joe Restoule General, OCT, is a learning resource teacher with Six Nations Schools in Ohsweken, Ont.

Stolen Lives: The Indigenous Peoples of Canada and the Indian Residential Schools, Facing History and Ourselves, Toronto, 2015,  softcover,  ISBN  978-1-940457-15-4,  231  pages,  $20,

An image of the book cover for 'Educator's Equity Companion Guide.' The cover image is a mosaic of faces.

Educator’s Equity Companion Guide

By Yaya Yao and Helen Anderson

The words that came to mind as I read through The Educator’s Equity Companion Guide are at times attributed to the wise pen of Dr. Seuss: “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Created to help teachers learn how to foster inclusive working and learning environments, the equity guide uses real-life scenarios to stimulate deeper observations and initiate thorny discussions about equity and why it matters.

Inequity in schools surrounds us. This guide is designed to raise awareness of its insidious existence and to critically examine the personal and systemic biases that hide within us, our classrooms and beyond. Through stories about social, cultural, economic and racial inequities, the authors lead us to consider the stereotypes, discrimination, prejudice, biases, sense of privilege and power that lurks within ourselves and our teaching practices. They encourage us to look at issues such as ableism and gender identity, and the many kinds of discrimination based on religion, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, race and mental health status. Stories, questions and discussions guide us to examine our inherent blind spots and prejudices and to make the appropriate internal and external adjustments. An action-taking section at the end of each chapter puts forward concrete strategies to counter biases and to effect meaningful and long-lasting change.

The final part of the book is a study of what a truly inclusive education might look like and suggests filtering all our teaching practices through an equity lens. The guide is a fast read with immediately useful strategies that can be readily implemented,  starting  with  getting  a  copy  of  the  e-book  into  the hands of everyone on staff. In addition to the e-book, Harmony Movement offers a free online course covering the key points of the guide, along with a workbook and professional development  ideas.  Educator’s  Equity  Companion  Guide  is  a  great entry point for fostering self-awareness and creating goals.

Anjana Thom, OCT, teaches communications to Grades 5 to 8 at Springbrook Public School in the Peel District School Board.

Educator’s Equity Companion Guide, Harmony Movement (developed with support from the Ontario Ministry of Education), 2014, Toronto, softcover, ISBN 978-0-9866890-6-2, 138 pages, $20,

An image of the book cover for 'Fifteen Dollars and Thirty-five Cents.' The cover image is an illustration of four children looking curious.

Fifteen Dollars and Thirty-five Cents

By Kathryn Cole, Illustrated by Qin Leng

Good choices are not always easy to make — especially when you are a kid in elementary school who happens to find some cash in the schoolyard. Do you keep it, or return it to its rightful owner? This is the dilemma facing two young boys, Joseph and Devon, who find $15.35 while playing outside in the schoolyard. “Finders keepers” is what Joseph immediately thinks of to justify keeping the money, but Devon isn’t so sure. He is convinced that this is not the right choice, especially since he had seen Lin very upset about losing her mother’s birthday present money — $15.35 to be exact. So, with the help of his wise teacher, Ms. Crosby, Devon makes a courageous decision that ends with every- one being happy, especially Joseph.

Children face moral dilemmas in their lives and to tell or not to tell is a big one. Without being too didactic or prescriptive in its message delivery, the story solves the predicament with sensitivity and nuance. Listening actively and acting respectfully are pivotal to Ms. Crosby’s successful solution to the problem.

This is a delightful story incorporating a cast of characters from diverse backgrounds. It appeals to younger elementary students because of its straightforwardness; however, the rich messages about being a good friend and making the right choices at the right time are timeless and not lost in the story’s simplicity. This book is an excellent starting point for discussion with students (Grades 1 to 3) involving character, especially as it pertains to honesty, integrity, respect for people and property, caring, and choosing wisely. Further classroom activities inspired by this story could be role-play, lost or found posters, making change from or adding money values up to $15.35, comic strips and writing poems on the topic of honesty, respect and choice. The author has also included a section at the end to help parents support their children with good decision-making at home.

Anjana Thom, OCT, teaches communications to Grades 5 to 8 at Springbrook Public School in the Peel District School Board.

Fifteen Dollars and Thirty-five Cents: A story about choices, Second Story Press, Toronto, 2015, hardcover, ISBN 978-1-92758-382-1, 24 pages, $15.95, distributed in Canada by UTP,