Books, Parenting

Summer Family Reading and Podcasts

Written by: Drishti Jalan, Writer & Social Media Coordinator

With summer coming to an end, it is time to squeeze in all the leisure reading you want to do before school starts. Whether it be for your kids or for yourself, reading books and listening to podcasts can be an educational venture, as well as a fun summer activity to partake in with your family.

While deciding which books to read and which podcasts to listen to, consider what topics you and your children are interested in, the length of the media and the appropriateness of the content for your kids. Check out Common Sense Media to search for whether certain media has mature content.

Our previous blog post covers access to these media, including getting a free library card if you live, work, go to school, or own property in a particular region. You can also access some of the resources from Toronto Public Library below:

Books and Audiobooks:

  1. Listening to the Beat of Our Drum: Stories of Indigenous Parenting in Contemporary Society by Carrie Bourassa; Darlene Juschka; Betty McKenna: This book is a collection of stories, inspired by a wealth of experiences across space and time from a kokum, an auntie, two-spirit parents, a Metis mother, a Tlinglit/Anishnabe Métis mother and an allied feminist mother. Storytelling is one of the most powerful forms of passing on teachings and values that we have in Indigenous communities. This book weaves personal stories to explore mothering practices and examines historical contexts and underpinnings that contribute to contemporary parenting practices. With powerful storytelling, this is the book to read if you want something that you will resonate with.
  2. Heidi, by Johanna Spyri (audiobook): In this treasured story, the orphan child, Heidi, is sent to live with her embittered grandfather high in the Swiss Alps. Heidi’s innocent joy of life and genuine concern and love for all living things become the old man’s salvation. From the goat-herder Peter and his family to the sickly girl Clara and her desperate father, Heidi’s special charm enriches everyone she meets. Unselfish to the core, Heidi’s goodness overcomes all obstacles — even those seemingly insurmountable. Remembered and loved as a child’s story, Heidi remains a testimony of redemption and salvation for all ages. Uplifting and enjoyable, Heidi is a great audiobook for the family to listen to together.
  3. Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant? A Memoir by Roz Chast: A #1 New York Times Bestseller and 2014 National Book Award Finalist, this book sees New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast bringing her signature wit to the topic of aging parents. With universal themes such as adult children accepting a parental role; aging and unstable parents leaving a family home for an institution; dealing with uncomfortable physical intimacies; managing logistics; and hiring strangers to provide the most personal care, Chast’s memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents.
  4. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda Movie Tie-In Edition by Becky Albertall (audiobook): Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out — without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met. Ideal for teenagers and adults alike, this book is a gripping read.
  5. I am Malala by  Malala Yousafzai; Christina Lamb (audiobook): On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, Malala was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school for speaking out against the Taliban when they took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan. Few expected her to survive. Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey. At sixteen, she became a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize. This book is a remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons. If you’re looking for an inspiring feminist read for yourself or your teenager, this is the book to go for.


  1. Teenager Therapy: Featuring five “stressed, sleep deprived, yet energetic” teenagers, this podcast has been going strong since September 2018. Their appeal comes from the wide range of topics that they cover — from being afraid of death, to what it’s like to have quit vaping, to acne insecurity. They have honest conversations about being a teenager and in high school through a free-form discussion format.
  2. The Past and The Curious: A History Podcast for Kids and Families: This is one of the podcasts that can be an educational venture for the whole family. Comedic actors take on lesser known episodes in history to make an engaging podcast with a thoughtful musical background.
  3. Poems To Calm Down To: This podcast by Megha Rao is ideal for those in search of peace and self-compassion. The poems are uncomplicated while dealing with complicated themes. It explores the personal growth journey of a young poet who is trying to understand life on her own terms while discovering the beauty of forgiveness, maturity and acceptance.
  4. Short & Curly: If you want your podcast to engage you beyond just listening to it, then this is the podcast for you and your kids. As a fast-paced and fun podcast about ethics, it brings up questions that are serious like “Is it ever OK to lie?” as well as silly ones like “Should you move to Mars?”. Long after the podcast is over, your kid will be left with questions and thoughts to reflect on.
  5. Parenting Beyond Discipline: Specializing in child development and family dynamics during her master’s in Clinical Psychology, Erin Royer-Asrilant is also a mother of three – certainly more than qualified to host a podcast that covers topics such as self-esteem, development and health, and education. This podcast has over 200 episodes that cover a wide variety of modern parenting issues, and is consistently ranked one of the best parenting podcasts.

With these books and podcasts, you and your family are bound to have an enjoyable end to this summer. For more recommendations on books and podcasts about parenting, conception, pregnancy, mental health or even grief suppo