Books I Love! Surprise Pages

Some of my favourite books have what I call “surprise pages.” These stories have interesting page sizes, holes, or books within books!

What are some of your favourite “surprise pages” books?


A red construction paper dress with stripes in a window to raise awareness for Missing and Murdered Women, Girls, and 2-Spirit People.

May 5th is Canada’s National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, and the Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls National Day of Action in the US.

How can we help?

When we don’t know how to start helping someone, listening to their stories is a very good place to start. In this video, I talk about my favourite books written and illustrated by, with, or about Indigenous Women and Girls.


I recognize talking about MMIWG2S with kids is not easy. Here are some resources for learning, art projects, books, and tips for getting started. Please note that these resources are for caregivers and educators, as the content may not be appropriate for all ages.

Books in the video

Stories Cannot be Quarantined

If you have tried to do a live group sing with kids over Zoom, you know this particular brand of face-palming dread:

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands

So, it’s not easy, but even under a stay-home order, I am deeply encouraged by the myriad ways we have found to share stories! Authors, illustrators, actors, musicians, educators, parents – we’ve all taken to the internet to bring our favourites and new creations to life. Josh Gad continues to slay stories on Twitter. Monique Gray Smith, Oliver Jeffers, Mo Willems, and Mac Barnett are thoroughly delightful, and Julie Andrews’ story podcast starts Wednesday! Please check out Resources for School Closures for lots of stories, visual/performing arts options, and other educational resources.

Here at Lightbulb Heart, I’m working on a three story-related projects:

Image: Picture of a laptop. Amber is smiling on the laptop screen. The child she was reading to placed twelve plastic dinosaurs on the laptop keyboard.
  1. Hangouts

I’m doing live online storytimes twice daily, with songs and stories tailored to that kid’s/kids’ interests.

If you are interested in the as-close-as-we-can-get-right-now storytime experience, let me know! (Please include day/time availability and what chat platform you prefer.) My personal children’s book collection is available online if you have requests. If you are in a position to do so, I’m requesting donations be made to your local food bank or relief organization of your choice.

One of my storytime kiddos gave me a dinosaur audience this week! ⭐

Picture courtesy of Tami Clark

2. Virtual Storytime: Songs and Stories with Lightbulb Heart

I’m posting a public domain book chapter, poem, story, or song to Lightbulb Heart on YouTube every weekday. I’ll conclude Alice in Wonderland (one chapter left!) and start reading the Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter and My Father’s Dragon next week! The channel has been a lot of fun and is giving a little shape to my days. It’s Tuesday, right?

3. A Shared Table – Creative Lab for Storytelling

Instagram post from A Shared Table describing the Storytelling Lab. Text reads: A creative lab for storytelling. A space to share, document and archive our personal narratives. The storytelling Lab is a space for BIPOC folx who want to share, document and archive their personal stories. We will use a sense of play, our intuition, our memories, and the wisdom that comes from life experience to locate the stories that we want to keep for ourselves and the stories we want to share. BIPOC = folx who self-identify as Black, Indigenous, or a Person of Colour.  Participants will be guided by facilitators who are committed to honouring the wisdom of each person and the complexity of each story. This creative lab will prepare you to share the personal story of your choosing in a large group setting using your voice, pen, and camera as your tools of communication.

I believe deeply in the community Bernadette Arthur is breathing into existence at A Shared Table. The Creative Lab for Storytelling is just one or her amazing ventures. The process is different than we had originally envisioned since we’ve had to pivot to all-online sessions for now, but our time together has been so rich and beautiful. I am very grateful for our weekly gatherings and look forward to being in physical space where other folks can join us in sharing stories.

A Shared Table has also partnered with En Conjunto for a series of Digital Dine-Ins – so many cool people gathering weekly to share a meal together (virtually) and talk about awesome things. Sue Littleton and I will be co-hosting one about children’s books on June 10th!

Image: an animated version of a photograph taken at Locke Street Farmer's Market. Amber reads a picture book to gathered families.

I miss Locke Street Farmer’s Market.
And Epic Books.
And Donut Monster.

Until we find ourselves back in these glorious spaces, let us continue to cultivate creative ways to share stories and be in community together.

Stay Home.
Wash Hands.
Be Kind.
Share Stories.
Love, Amber

Feb. 05, 2020 is World Read Aloud Day!

Lightbulb Heart will celebrate World Read Aloud Day all day long and you’re invited!

Amber holding a picture book. Text reads "February 5th is World Read Aloud Day!"
Photo: Suzuran Photography

For little kids:

  • 10:30AM EPIC BOOKS
  • Individual storytimes, in-person and online, for tiny readers as far away as Morocco! ♥️ Please message me if you have a kiddo you’d like added to the lineup!

For big kids:

Who will you be reading aloud with on Feb. 05?

Animated Discussions

I’ve been known to fall down a youtube rabbit hole from time to time. My latest bunny trail began with a repeated viewing of Matthew A. Cherry’s HAIR LOVE, an adaptation of his picture book of the same name. Love, love, LOVE.

Oscar-nominated Animated Short Film HAIR LOVE

In addition to this Oscar-nominated short (fingers crossed for a win!), my providential e-spiral included MOM – A MOTHER, MISSING HOME (tears), THE PRESENT (tears), DESTINY (sighs), and ALIKE.

ALIKE, 2016 Goya Award-winning short film by Daniel Martínez Lara and Rafa Cano Méndez (update: 23 APR 2020 – no longer available on YouTube)…I feel as if I should show it to people instead of trying to explain why I’m taking my sweet time with There’s an Easy-Bake Oven Where My Heart Should Be. It’s about the same business, just in a different medium. Regardless of our age, we all need freedom of imagination and creativity in order to thrive. I know that I depend on the wonder of children to restore my ability to move through the world with awe and kindness. How do we keep our tiny folks from losing their own access?

Give HAIR LOVE a watch, won’t you? I’d love to talk to folks about it.