Storybooks Canada

Information for Teachers

The following information is intended to be a guide for all teachers to show how links can be made between the stories on this site and provincial curricula by referencing universal themes and activities across grade levels and subject areas.


Aligning stories to the BC Curriculum

While the stories have their origins in Africa, the themes are universal and incorporate curricular goals and content. The following tables break down stories at each level by theme, subject area and curricular competencies (see Gilman, 2018 for a more detailed overview).

Level 1 Stories: Aligned with K-3 Learning Outcomes

Name of Story Theme Curricular Competencies / Content
I Like to Read Families Language Arts / Social Studies
Counting Animals Animals Math (counting to 10) / Geography
Feelings Feelings Physical and health Education
Fire Fire Social Studies (fire safety curriculum) / Continuity and change / Science
The Hungry Crocodile Animals / Food Science
Look at the Animals Animals Science
School Clothes Needs and wants Social Studies
Hair Diverse cultures, backgrounds and perspectives within local and other communities. Social Studies
Two Parts of the body Physical and Health education
Weather Book Weather Science (weather changes)
Lazy Little Brother Family; diverse cultures Social Studies
Cooking Food and nutrition Physical and Health Education
What are you doing? Sensory motor skills / Body awareness Physical and Health education
Where is my cat? Prepositions Language Arts
My Body Verbs Language Arts

Level 2 Stories

Name of Story Theme Curricular Competencies / Content
Why hippos have no hair Revenge/choices Health Education
Children of wax Rules / Consequences / Family Language Arts / Science
Tingi and the cows War / Conflict / Challenge Social studies / Geography
Tom the banana seller Gender equality / Diverse cultures / Communities Social studies / Geography
Decision Cooperation / Challenge / Problem solving / Cultural diversity Social Studies
Punishment Consequences / Sharing Health Education
Khalai talks to plants Environment / Nature Science
Andiswa soccer star Gender equality Health Education
A very tall man Problem solving Language Arts
Zama is great Independence / Growing up / Cultural diversity / Family Health Education
Goat, dog and cow Friendship / Justice Social Studies

Level 3 Stories

Name of Story Theme Curricular Competencies / Content
Donkey Child Celebrating differences Socials / Health education
Anansi and Wisdom Sharing / Invention Science / Social Studies / Health Education
A Tiny Seed: The Story of Wangari Maathai Making a difference / Celebrating cultural diversity / Social impact Science/Social Studies
Hen and Eagle Responsibility / Procrastination Social Studies
The day I left home for the city Community: Rural vs. urban, village vs. city / Growing up / Cultural diversity Social Studies
Chicken and Millipede Winning and Losing / Friendship Science / Health Education
Nozibele and the three hairs Safety Health Education
Sakima’s song Disability Health Education

Level 4 Stories

Story Theme Curricular Competencies / Content
What Vusi’s sister said Family / Material / Cultural diversity Language Arts - Sequencing / Socials / Health education
The Honeyguide’s revenge Folktale / Greed Science
Grandma’s bananas Family / Secrets / Stealing Health and Education / Social Studies / Science
Holidays with Grandmother Family / Grandparents / Culture / Diversity Social Studies / Geography
Simbegwire Overcoming adversity / Death / Family Health Education
Magozwe Struggle / Adversity / Identity / Hope Social Studies / Health Education

High/low stories

Given the increasing numbers of immigrant and refugee students who speak a home language other than English or French, sourcing multilingual reading materials across grade levels is crucial to student success.

An issue for educators is how to source materials for newcomer middle school English Language Learners who require low level reading materials with age appropriate content that appeals to their diverse cultural, linguistic and age appropriate needs. Such texts are referred to as “high/low” books – in other words, high interest, low vocabulary.

The following table highlights how stories from Storybooks Canada can be used as examples of high/low reading material broken down by reading level, age appropriate illustrations, curricular content and universal themes.

Name of Story Text Level Illustration Index* Sample Illustration Theme Curricular Competencies / Content
Hair Level 1: One or two short simple sentences per page; up to 75 words per page. 6-14 years old Diverse cultures, backgrounds and perspectives within local and other communities. Social Studies
Andiswa Soccer Star Level 2: A few sentences per page; between 76-250 words. 7-16 years old Gender equality Health Education / Social Studies
The day I left home for the city Level 3: Short paragraph per page; between 251-500 words. 9-16 years old Community: rural vs urban, village vs city / Growing up / cultural diversity Social Studies
The Honeyguide’s revenge Level 4: One paragraph per page; between 501-799 words. 8-18 years old Folktale / Greed Science
Magozwe Level 5: Long paragraph per page; 800 words or more. 8-15 years old Struggle / Adversity / Identity / Hope / Poverty Social Studies / Health Education

*Note: Illustration index is used to index the approximate age of the characters in the story plus or minus 2 years (upper ages) which provides a range of ages for which the illustrations are suitable. They are not limited to the older ranges of the students as younger students enjoy seeing pictures of older children and content is factored in when determining the lower age range.

Shifting modes with stories

In order to adequately address the diverse needs of students and ensure that curriculum remains relevant to children’s changing experiences outside of school, teachers must tap into a broader range of modes that appeal to a multicultural and multilingual community of learners.

Teachers have the ability to easily shift through modes using stories as a medium. The following are a list of 20 suggestions for teachers to incorporate stories from Storybooks Canada into their classrooms utilizing a range of modes (for a more thorough explanation of multimodality and multiliteracies, see Gilman, 2018).

  1. The stories from Storybooks Canada can be printed in multiple languages and be used as print books that students can take home and read.
  2. Students can act out the stories and change them to fit their own cultural practices and backgrounds. The storytellers, by borrowing and repurposing texts, images, and music, are able to claim authorial agency (Hull & Katz, 2006) and be co-authors and agents of literacy acquisition (Lotherington, 2011).
  3. Stories have a depth of meaning when there is a theme. The stories on the site have many universal themes that align within the new BC Curriculum. In addition to the Language Arts curriculum, themes of Animals, Counting Animals, also integrate the kindergarten competence of math counting to 10, and Look at the Animals that explores kindergarten science goals. Feelings ties into the Kindergarten and Grade 1 Physical and Health Education competencies, while I like to Read explores the theme of family (see Appendix 1 for a link to all stories and related themes; and where they intersect with subjects in addition to Language Arts).
  4. Teachers can share Indigenous stories from a range of Canadian First Nations, helping to promote greater appreciation for Canada’s Indigenous history.
  5. Students can produce short videos in multiple languages with the option of using subtitles. This process engages learners in a great deal of oral production and entails many literate practices.
  6. Students can produce storyboards for organizing thoughts in visual ways.
  7. Students can write scripts to act out and/or create puppet shows.
  8. Students can incorporate music to identify emotion attached to the stories.
  9. Becoming familiar with digital stories in multiple languages teaches students how to create their own stories and encourages exploration of sites such as Scribjab, (Dagenais et al, 2017).
  10. Teachers can print out illustrations and encourage students to write their own stories in class or at home with the help of peers or parents
  11. Multimodal stories that use the mother tongue of learners can be taken home for writing and/or translating, bridging home and school literacy practices. Immigrant parents who may be marginalized by the school system are invited to participate in their children’s learning experiences, to help construct the stories, and to be seen as experts (Lotherington, 2011).
  12. Teachers can print out stories with text only, and based on their understanding of the text, have students illustrate the story using photos, drawings, collages.
  13. Students can create posters or dioramas, and teachers can organize a walkabout displaying work.
  14. In a jigsaw reading, students can read different parts of the same text or different texts and create an information exchange.
  15. Information gap activities can encourage active reading. Teachers can take out information from the story and have students interpret and add their own ideas.
  16. Students can find the country of origin of a story/author and explore the geographical location, culture, and language.
  17. Stories can be used as a source of digital literacy teaching: playing audio, changing languages, using the stop/pause features.
  18. Students can discuss Creative Commons, copyright policies/procedures, and issues of ownership and open access
  19. Students can create 3 dimensional objects to showcase various themes. Teachers can distribute the same materials to different groups to visually represent the different ways students take up meaning from stories as well as the different ways to ‘tell’ the same story.
  20. Teachers can discuss the various orthographies used in different languages, thus creating greater language awareness in the classroom (Dagenais, et al, 2009).

Adapted from: “Using Storybooks Canada and Other Digital Stories to Honour Diversity within the Classroom” (English Practice, 2018).