20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (2024)

A mother's journey as a parent is often shaped by their culture, their circ*mstances and their own relationships with their parents.

This Mother's Day (May 12),check out 20 Canadian books that give insight to the varied experiences of being a mom or mother-like figure.

I Am Because We Are by ​​Chidiogo Akunyili-Parr

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (1)

I Am Because We Are documents how Chidiogo Akunyili-Parr's late mother, Dora Akunyili, faced down misogyny and corruption in Nigeria. The nonfiction book is a look at how Dora Akunyili took on fraudulent drug manufacturers after their products killed millions, including her sister. And when Akunyili becomes an elected official, she faced death threats and an assassination attempt. Akunyili-Parr's mother suffered for her beliefs, as did her marriage and six children.

I Am Because We Are explores the importance of community over the individual and the power of kinship.

  • 16 books by Black Canadian authors to read in honour of Emancipation Day

Chidiogo Akunyili-Parr is a Nigerian Canadian writer, speaker and the founder of She ROARs, a global community empowering women. She was included in The Guardian's list of the 100 most inspiring women in Nigeria. I Am Because We Are is her first book.

We Rip the World Apart by Charlene Carr

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (2)

We Rip the World Apart tells the layered story of Kareela, a 24-year-old, biracial woman, who finds out she's pregnant and is struggling to find herself; her mother, Evelyn, who fled to Canada from Jamaica in the 1980s; and her paternal grandmother, Violet, who moved into their house after Kareela's brother was killed by the police.

  • Charlene Carr explores Black and biracial identity in the Maritimes with her novel We Rip the World Apart

Charlene Carr is a Toronto-raised writer and author based in Nova Scotia. She is the author of several independently published novels and a novella. Her first novel with a major publisher is Hold My Girl. She was named a writer to watch in 2023 by CBC Books.

LISTEN | Charlene Carr on The Next Chapter with Ryan B. Patrick:

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (3)

The Next Chapter12:55The cost of keeping silent in We Rip the World Apart

Moving from the diverse streets of Toronto to rural Atlantic Canada at a young age is something both Charlene Carr and the protagonist of her latest novel share in common. The Nova Scotia writer discusses race, politics and grief in her latest book We Rip the World Apart.

Dandelionby Jamie Chai Yun Liew

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (4)

When Lily was a child, her mother, Swee Hua, walked away from the family and was never heard from again. After becoming a new mother herself, Lily is obsessed with discovering what happened to Swee Hua. She recalls growing up in a British Columbia mining town where there were only a handful of Asian families and how Swee Hua longed to return to Brunei. Eventually, a clue leads Lily to southeast Asia to find out the truth about her mother.

Dandelionis a novel about family secrets, migration, isolation, motherhood and mental illness.

Jamie Chai Yun Liew is a lawyer and law professor based in Ottawa.Dandelionis her first novel and won her the Jim Wong-Chu Emerging Writers Award from the Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop.

And Then She Fell by Alicia Elliott

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (5)

And Then She Fell is a horror novel which follows a young woman named Alice struggling to navigate the early days of motherhood and live up to the unrealistic expectations of those around her.

  • Alicia Elliott's novel And Then She Fell longlisted for $51K Women's Prize for Fiction

Alicia Elliott is a Mohawk writer currently based in Brantford, Ont. Her writing has been published most recently in Room, Grain and The New Quarterly. She is the only author living in Canada to make this year's longlist.

LISTEN | Alicia Elliott talks about her debut novel on The Sunday Magazine:

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (6)

The Sunday Magazine22:11Alicia Elliott on fiction, motherhood and mental illness

Following her acclaimed essay collection A Mind Spread Out on the Ground, Mohawk writer Alicia Elliott is back with a new novel that draws on her own deeply personal experiences to tell a story of motherhood, mental illness and intergenerational trauma. And Then She Fell follows Alice, a young Haudenosaunee mother who goes through a kind of looking glass, as she deals with postpartum depression and married life away from her family and traditions. It’s a story of difficult truths, told with humour, horror and a bit of surrealism. Elliott joins Rebecca Zandbergen to talk about the novel, the personal experiences that inspired it, and best practices for sharing difficult stories – both in fiction and beyond.

The Story of Us by Catherine Hernandez

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (7)

The Story of Us follows Mary Grace Concepcion, a Filipino worker who has left her family behind to build a new life in Canada. In Toronto, Mary Grace lands a job as a personal support worker for Liz, an elderly woman living with dementia. Through their relationship, Mary Garce's beliefs are challenged and they grow to have an unlikely friendship. Told through the perspective of Mary Grace's infant daughter, The Story of Us represents the heartfelt experiences of migrant Filipino workers.

Catherine Hernandez is a Canadian writer and playwright. She is the author of several books, including the novels Scarborough and Crosshairs and the children's books I Promise, M is for Mustache and Where Do Your Feelings Live?. She is also the creator and star of the Audible Original sketch comedy podcast Imminent Disaster. Scarborough was championed by actor Malia Baker on Canada Reads 2022. It was also adapted into a feature film that premiered at TIFF in 2021 and won eight awards at the Canadian Screen Awards in 2022, including Best Adapted Screenplay for Hernandez.

LISTEN | Catherine Hernandez discusses The Story of Us on Q with Tom Power:

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (8)

Q22:49Catherine Hernandez on writing a book that feels like love

Award-winning author Catherine Hernandez (Scarborough) on writing a book that feels like love, being a conduit for her ancestors and the eye-opening research that went into her latest novel, The Story of Us.

Natural Order by Brian Francis

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (9)

In the novel Natural Order, Joyce Sparks is 86 years old and living in a nursing home in her small Ontario town. She knows the end is near, so she is reflecting on her life, her lost loves, her biggest mistakes and her relationship with her son.

Brian Francis is the author of novels Fruit, Natural Order and Break in Case of Emergency and the memoir Missed Connections. He is a writer and columnist for The Next Chapter on CBC Radio and lives in Toronto.

LISTEN | Brian Francis recommends three books on The Next Chapter:

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (10)

The Next Chapter15:58Celebrating the art of doing nothing with Brian Francis

Tired of hustle culture? Writer and The Next Chapter columnist Brian Francis recommends three books to help slow things down and smell the roses: Solitude by Michael Harris Do Nothing by Celeste Headlee and Bread Therapy by Pauline Beaumont.

Mother Muse by Lorna Goodison

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (11)

In her first poetry collection in over nine years, Lorna Goodison highlights two "mothers" in Jamaican music in Mother Muse. Sister Mary Ignatius, who nurtured many of Jamaica's most gifted musicians, and dancer Anita "Margarita" Mahfood are the figures at the centre of this collection.

  • Canadian poet Lorna Goodison shares the books that inspired her life and work

Lorna Goodison is one of Canada's most renowned writers. She was Jamaica's poet laureate from 2017 to 2020. Over the past 40 years, Goodison has written 14 books of poetry, including Collected Poems, and an award-winning memoir From Harvey River, which won the 2008 B.C. National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction and was a finalist for both the Trillium Book Award and the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction. She was awarded the 2019 Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry for her body of work.

LISTEN | Lorna Goodison discusses Mother Muse:

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (12)

The Next Chapter20:19Lorna Goodison on Mother Muse

Lorna Goodison on her book of poetry, Mother Muse.

Shadow Life by Hiromi Goto, illustrated by Ann Xu

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (13)

In the graphic novel Shadow Life, 76-year-old Kumiko is placed in a long-term care home by her daughters. It's not what Kumiko wants so she breaks out and takes refuge in an apartment she keeps secret from her children. She finds pleasure in simple, daily life, but Death's shadow haunts her. Kumiko is ready to fight for the life she's built herself, but how long can she fight back?

  • Listen: Hiromi Goto's new graphic novel Shadow Life pits a rebellious senior against death itself

Hiromi Goto is a writer and editor from British Columbia. Her novels include Chorus of Mushrooms, Half World and Darkest Light. Shadow Life is her first graphic novel.

Ann Xu is an American illustrator.

Passionate Mothers, Powerful Sons by Charlotte Gray

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (14)

Passionate Mothers, Powerful Sons, is a dual biography of Jennie Jerome Churchill and Sara Delano Roosevelt, the mothers of Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The book looks at the lives of these two women in the mid-19th century and the essential role they played in shaping their influential sons.

  • 26 works of Canadian nonfiction coming out in spring 2024

Charlotte Gray is a noted historian and a member of the Order of Canada. She has written nearly a dozen books on Canadian history, covering everything from the Massey Murder to the Klondike Gold Rush. Her books include The Massey Murder, which won the Toronto Book Award and the Toronto Heritage Book Award, The Promise of Canada, Gold Diggers and Murdered Midas.

Monsters, Martyrs, and Marionettes by Adrienne Gruber

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (15)

In Monsters, Martyrs, and Marionettes, Adrienne Gruber explores the theme of motherhood through a collection of essays. It celebrates bodies, maternal bonds, beauty — but also the uglier side of parenthood, the chaos and even how close we are to death at any given moment.

  • Books by past CBC Nonfiction Prize finalists being published in 2024

Gruber is a poet and essayist originally from Saskatoon. She is the author of three books of poetry, most recently , and five chapbooks. She placed third in Event's creative nonfiction contest in 2020 and was the runner up in SubTerrain's creative nonfiction contest in 2023.

Gruber was longlisted for the 2023 CBC Nonfiction Prize for Clocks. In 2020, she made the CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for Our Feedback Loop, Our Fractal, Our Never-Ending Pattern. Gruber was also on the longlist for the 2016 CBC Poetry Prize for Better Birthing Through Chemistry.

Motherhood by Sheila Heti

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (16)

The unnamed narrator of Sheila Heti's Motherhood spends the novel preoccupied with a single question: should she have children? Searching for a satisfying answer, whether it ultimately be 'yes' or 'no,' the narrator consults her partner, her family and her body, breaking down the philosophical underpinnings of motherhood. Heti has written eight books of fiction and nonfiction, including How Should a Person Be?, and lives in Toronto.

  • Sheila Heti and Gabor Maté among winners of $10K Vine Awards which recognize best Canadian Jewish books

Sheila Heti is a noted Canadian playwright and author of fiction and nonfiction whose work has been translated in over a dozen languages. Her novel Motherhood was on the shortlist for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize. Her other books include Pure Colour and Alphabetical Diaries.

Motherthing by Ainslie Hogarth

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (17)

Motherthing takes the horrors of the evil mother-in-law into new depths as Laura comes back to haunt her son Ralph and his wife Abby as a ghost. As Abby attempts to build a new life for her family and move beyond her own complicated childhood, her mother-in-law terrorizes her every step, leaving Abby to question motherhood and the sacrifices she may have to make.

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Ainslie Hogarth is a Canadian YA and speculative fiction writer. Her other books include The Lonely and The Boy Meets Girl Massacre (Annotated). Her mystery novel, Normal Women is set to release later this year.

Bad Cree by Jessica Johns

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (18)

Bad Cree is a horror-infused novel that centres around a young woman named Mackenzie, who is haunted by terrifying nightmares and wracked with guilt about her sister Sabrina's untimely death. The lines between her dreams and reality start to blur when she begins seeing a murder of crows following her around the city. Looking to escape, Mackenzie heads back to her hometown in rural Alberta where she finds her mom, aunties and other sister still entrenched in their grief. With her dreams intensifying and getting more dangerous, Mackenzie must confront a violent family legacy and reconcile with the land and her community.

  • Canada Reads author Jessica Johns among finalists for Aurora Awards for Canadian sci-fi and fantasy writing

Jessica Johns is a queer nehiyaw aunty with English-Irish ancestry and a member of Sucker Creek First Nation. Johns won the 2020 Writers' Trust Journey Prize for the short story Bad Cree, which evolved into the novel of the same name. Bad Cree also won the MacEwan Book of the Year prize. Johns is currently based in Edmonton.

LISTEN | Dallas Soonias and Jessica Johns discuss Bad Cree:

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (19)

The Next Chapter19:53Canada Reads Panellist Dallas Soonias and Bad Cree author Jessica Johns meet for the first time

Former professional volleyball player and filmmaker Dallas Soonias explore why he chose the novel Bad Cree by Jessica Johns as Canada’s must-read book. The Indigenous author gives us a glimpse into the tense and often terrifying world of her novel.

My Hood's Not Big Enough by Aija Aiofe Komangapik

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (20)

My Hood's Not Big Enough is the story of Mother Fox who is trying to carry her eight babies all by herself. Fortunately her family is there to help — that's what family's all about! My Hood's Not Big Enough is a bilingual picture book, with the story told in both Inuktitut and English.

  • CBC Kids Reads is back! 6 Canadian picture books in the running to be crowned this year's champion

Aija Aiofe Komangapik is a visual artist, writer and illustrator born and raised in Iqaluit. She won the 2019 Indigenous Arts and Stories contest from Historica Canada for her piece, Drum Dancer. Komangapik lives in Quebec.

Motherlike by Katherine Leyton

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (21)

In her feminist memoir Motherlike, Katherine Leyton blends her personal experiences as a new mother with cultural commentary and historical research. From the challenges of labour and the objectification of women's bodies to the history of the birth control pill, she looks at motherhood as an essential part of human life that is often dismissed in society.

  • The 2024 CBC Poetry Prize is open!

Leyton is a nonfiction writer, poet and screenwriter from Toronto. Her first book of poetry All the Gold Hurts My Mouth won the 2018 ReLit Award for poetry.

Scar Tissue by Sara Daniele Michaud, translated by Katia Grubisic

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (22)

Sara Danièle Michaud considers what makes a mother in the book Scar Tissue. Mothers are created by their children and expanded and abbreviated by maternity as a social category. Motherhood is both organic and constructed. Scar Tissue explores this most primal human relationship from a personal and universal point of view.

Michaud is a writer and philosopher. Her research and publications focus on the intersection of philosophy and literature. She teaches at the Cégep de Saint-Laurent. Scar Tissue is her first book to be translated into English.

  • The best Canadian nonfiction of 2023

Katia Grubisic is a writer, editor and translator. Her translation of Brothers by David Clerson was a finalist for the 2017 Governor General's Literary Award for French-to-English translation.

Building a Nest from the Bones of My People by Cara-Lyn Morgan

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (23)

Building a Nest from the Bones of My People begins with the speaker realizing their experience with sexual abuse in their family. In this poetry collection, Cara-Lyn Morgan writes about first-time motherhood, generational trauma and colonization.

  • 37 poetry collections to watch for in spring 2024

Cara-Lyn Morgan is a Métis and Trinidadian poet and writer from Oskana, or Regina, Sask. Her other poetry collections include What Became My Grieving and Cartograph.

A Grandmother Begins the Story by Michelle Porter

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (24)

A Grandmother Begins the Story tells the story of five generations of Métis women as they raise children, reclaim lost heritage, heal past traumas, tell stories that will carry healing forward and make peace in the afterlife. Introducing the women at different life stages, including after death, the book showcases a diversity of voices and personalities.

A Grandmother Begins the Story was shortlisted for the 2023 Writers' Trust Atwood Gibson Prize.

  • 'The land had to have a voice:' Métis author Michelle Porter discusses her debut novel

Michelle Porter also wrote the memoir Scratching River, the nonfiction book Approaching Fire, which was shortlisted for the Indigenous Voices Award in 2021 and a book of poetry, Inquiries, which was shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award. She lives in Newfoundland and Labrador. Porter made the 2019 CBC Nonfiction Prize longlist for her story Fireweed. Before that, she'd also made the 2017 CBC Poetry Prize longlist for Slicing Lemons in April and the 2016 CBC Poetry Prize longlist for Between you and home.

LISTEN | Michelle Porter discusses A Grandmother Begins the Story:

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (25)

The Next Chapter19:12Michelle Porter on A Grandmother Begins the Story

The Metis author Michelle Porter talks to Shelagh Rogers about her debut novel, A Grandmother Begins the Story, which features a multiplicity of voices, human and otherwise.

Mom Marries Mum! by Ken Setterington, illustrate by Alice Priestly

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (26)

This picture book celebrates the diversity of family. In Mom Marries Mum!, two siblings are over the moon when they learn that their mom and mum have decided to get married.

Mom Marries Mum! is for ages 0-3.

Ken Setterington is a writer, storyteller, children's book reviewer and librarian from Toronto. His other children's books include Mom and Mum are Getting Married and Branded by the Pink Triangle.

Alice Priestley is an artist and illustrator from Toronto. She has illustrated several children's books, including Rainbows in the Dark by Jan Coates, Winning the Girl of the Sea by Brenda Silsbe and Lights for Gita by Rachna Gilmore.

Hotline by Dimitri Nasrallah

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (27)

Hotline is a story about the sacrifices and strength of an immigrant mother. When Muna Heddad and her son moved to Montreal in 1986, her goal was to find a job quickly so that she could earn money and raise her family. In the new country, the only work Muna could find is at a weight-loss center as a hotline operator, where she takes calls from different people who share stories about their personal lives. Even as her daily life in Canada is filled with invisible barriers at every turn, Muna has access to her clients' deepest secrets at work.

Hotline was championed by bhangra dancer and educator Gurdeep Pandher on Canada Reads 2023.

  • Canada Reads novel Hotline by Dimitri Nasrallah named 2024 title for One eRead Canada's annual book club

Dimitri Nasrallah is an editor and writer from Montreal. He is also the author of the novels The Bleeds, Niko and Blackbodying.

LISTEN | Dimitri Nasrallah discusses Hotline:

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (28)

The Next Chapter17:43Dimitri Nasrallah on Hotline

Ryan B. Patrick interviews Dimitri Nasrallah on his Canada Reads 2023 contender, Hotline.

20 Canadian books that represent motherhood for Mother's Day 2024 | CBC Books (2024)

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