Resource | K-12 Evaluated Resource Collection

K-12 Evaluated Resource Collection

Voice for the Spirit Bears, A: How One Boy Inspired Millions to Save a Rare Animal

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Author/Publisher/Website: Oliver, C.
Copyright: 2019
Evaluation/Record Entry Date: Apr/2020
Submitting suppliers/Website: Not Available
Primary Identifier: 9781771389792
Recommended Grades and Subjects/Courses: 1-7
(View recommended grades and subjects)

Resource Description

This Canadian picture book details the story of Simon Jackson, a child interested in animals and wildlife, especially spirit bears, and his efforts to protect their homes from logging activities. Despite being bullied at school for having a stutter, he finds the strength to speak to all the students at his school and his passion encourages them to help him try to protect the spirit bears and their homes. Suitable for discussions about the environment, sustainability, animals, student activism, social responsibility, bullying, and disability, and to show students that their voice can make a difference.


Does the resource support BC curriculum?
This product supports the Core Competencies of the BC curriculum:
Creative Thinking
Critical thinking
Positive Personal and Cultural Identity
Personal Awareness and Responsibility
Social Responsibility
This resource is a picture book which supports the Big Idea in the Science curriculum that living things are diverse, interact with their ecosystems, and respond to their environment. It also supports the English Language Arts curriculum with the Big Ideas that stories can be a source of creativity and joy, stories help us learn about ourselves and our communities and make connections to others and the world, and curiosity and wonder can lead us to new discoveries about ourselves and the world around us. This book supports the grade 6/7 Career Education curriculum by supporting the strands of local needs and opportunities, environmental stewardship, and social justice.


This story, based on the real-life events of Simon Jackson, tells of his experiences with growing up with a stutter and the bullying he endures because of it. Rather than allowing Simon the chance to speak, other students finish his sentences for him. He is called hurtful names and is also teased, chosen last or not at all, and spends many lunch periods in the bathroom to avoid contact with the bullies.
The issue of deforestation in this book could pose an ethical debate with the jobs and in-demand materials that logging creates while at the same time destroying the natural environment and homes of animals.
Simon joins a group of researchers on an expedition to study spirit bears. This expedition includes a multi-day rainforest hike "over jagged rocks, across stream and down slippery slopes". On this hike he also encounters a spirit bear in its natural environment.
Environmental sustainability is addressed in this resource with the deforestation that would destroy the homes of the animals living in the area. The actions Simon takes locally to engage his peers in writing letters to the government, forming a youth coalition, speaking at environmental rallies, and working with local Indigenous communities begins to have more of a global impact. This book shows students how human choice and actions can have an effect on the environment.
Do the social considerations support, rather than detract from, student learning?
Social Considerations Comments:
The social considerations are important in supporting the themes of this picture book. They provide teachers with opportunities for class discussions around Core Competencies such as communication, social responsibility, and social awareness. It could also be used for a discussion on abilities and differences and how our words and actions impact how others feel and act. The environmental theme could lead to discussions of how students can use their communication skills and understanding of social awareness and responsibility to make a difference in their own communities.


Should this product be identified as Canadian?
Is the resource engaging?
Is the content current for the intended curriculum and grade?
Is the content accurate for the intended curriculum and grade?
Is the content timely and important for student broad understandings?
Is the content appropriate to the emotional maturity and cognitive level of students?
Does the resource provide opportunities for creative and critical thinking?
Can the content be differentiated?
Can reading level be adjusted?
Not at all or slightly
Is the level of detail appropriate?
Is the language use appropriate to the emotional maturity and cognitive level of students?
A Voice for the Spirit Bear was written by a Canadian author. This resource is timely with the increasing student interest that is shown towards environmental awareness and causes. The reading level cannot be adjusted, however, the content can be differentiated by focusing on the different issues addressed in the resource such as bullying, disability, and environmental activism. It provides opportunities for developing empathy skills and critical thinking skills such as problem-solving.


Does the resource make effective use of the medium?
Is the location of illustrations appropriate?
Is the resource easy to use?
Is the use of font, text size and presentation uniform?
Are extraneous elements/illustrations kept to a minimum?
Illustrations are appropriate to the story, yet not the most engaging for younger students. All illustrations are in the same colour palette, mainly yellow, blue, and green which fits well with its environment/forest content. Text size is small and is located in different spots on each of the pages making it more difficult for a read-aloud.


Does the text show insight into the complexity of the human condition?
Does the text broaden students’ experiences and understanding?
To what degree is this text stylistically rich?
Plot description:
A Voice for the Spirit Bears is a true story of Simon Jackson, a child with an interest in animals and wildlife, spirit bears in particular. This leads to Simon's desire to do whatever he can to help protect the homes of the spirit bears from the logging that is causing them to be destroyed. Simon overcomes his nervousness and fear and is able to speak to all of the students at his school, including those who had bullied him. His passion and activism lead others to join him in letter writing and creating a youth coalition to speak out for the spirit bears and work towards protecting their homes from destruction.
Related Comments:
This text shows students that children's voices are powerful and can make a difference. Students' experiences could be broadened by having them work on an inquiry into a real-life issue or cause that they feel strongly about and finding actions they could take to contribute towards the cause just as Simon does in the story.
Literary Highlights:
Well-developed themes
Point of view
Literary non-fiction
Visual Highlights:
Literary non-fiction


At intended grade level(s)
This resource includes a detailed biography of Simon Jackson at the back of the book as well as further information on the spirit bear species. There is a section following this with suggestions on what students can do to make a difference.


This resource can be used to engage students in a discussion about the environment, sustainability, animals, and student activism. Using this book will help students to understand their own social responsibility and awareness and how they can positively contribute to their environment and community, while working to resolve problems. It can be used to show how we all have differences, and lead to a group or class discussion on being kind and supportive of one another. For a lesson on teaching students that children's voices and ideas matter, it could be used as an introduction to a letter writing lesson where students can write their own letters, speaking out for something they believe in.