Tell me a story

Her first children’s stories were intended for her own kids, but thousands of local littles have enjoyed Anne Raina’s books since

Julia Taylor and Anne Raina read to children at Bonnechere Union Public Library in Eganville in 2016. Photo Credit Grant Cameron

Wanting to instill her passion for reading in her young children, Anne Raina read to them on a daily basis. In 1969, when they were three and four years old, their mother began writing stories and poems for them, but didn’t reveal that she was the author.


“[I wanted to] experience their unfiltered reaction,” says the Ottawa resident. In the story The Kangaroo with the Wooden Shoe, “[my children] were the little children in the book,” Raina says. “While they enjoyed everything I wrote, they were especially fond of that story, even without any illustrations.”


Anne Raina’s book covers. Photo Courtesy Anne Raina


Years later, it was Raina’s children, Kelly Anne, now 58, and Mark, now 56, who encouraged their mother to do something with the mounds of unpublished writing that had amassed.


There was a lot; Raina had been writing since she was a child. “While book publishing was always in the back of my mind, working two jobs, raising two children on my own after my divorce, teaching the Christopher Leadership Course and then illness all took priority,” she says. Forty-six years after she wrote it, The Kangaroo with the Wooden Shoe was published.


Raina’s love of books and stories went all the way back to her first day in Grade 1. “Along the top of the first blackboard I’d ever seen were the 26 letters of the alphabet, a foot high, in precise lettering,” she recalled. “To me, it seemed a treasure trove… My excitement was surpassed only a couple of days later when our first Dick and Jane readers were handed out to us. A shiny new book, never opened, was placed on my desk. It even smelled new. But it was what was between the covers that took my breath away. The pictures were pretty but the words held me mesmerized. From that day on, my appetite for reading and writing was insatiable.”


She’s 79 now, but her love of children’s books remains.I have always been able to transport myself back to my feelings and excitement about stories and books when I was little,” Raina says. “It is those vivid memories that I draw upon when writing for children.”


Raina published Things That Go SPLAT! in 2015, the same year that The Kangaroo with the Wooden Shoe was published. The following year, she published The Kangaroo with the Wooden Shoe – Book Two and Things That Go Where They Shouldn’t. The books are all illustrated by Julia Taylor, then a student at the Canterbury School of the Arts. “We easily worked out a fantastic collaboration on the books,” Raina says. “Her imagination had full range and it just happened to coincide with how I visualized the scenarios.”


Raina’s non-fiction work includes Clara’s Rib, which chronicles the life of Raina’s sister, Clara—who entered the Ottawa Tuberculosis Sanatorium (called “the San”) on Carling as a pre-teen and left at age 26. It also touches on the history of Ottawa; the first uses of penicillin and streptomycin; and the discovery of drug therapy for TB.


During her years at the San, Clara—who had 11 ribs removed as a part of her treatment—kept a detailed diary. In 2010—the 100th anniversary of the opening of the San—Raina published Clara’s Rib, fulfilling a promise she’d made before Clara’s 1998 death.


“I wanted to give voice to the many people in the world who have faced the devastating diagnosis of TB,” says Raina, who had many other family members affected by the disease. “From the 1930s to the 1950s, my father and seven of my siblings spent over 40 years either in the San or confined to bed at home on the cure,” she says. “I wanted to educate the general population about the ongoing TB crisis in the world. So many believe tuberculosis is a thing of the past. According to the World Health Organization, in 2021, 10.6 million people fell ill with TB and 1.6 million people died of the disease.” Clara’s Rib went on to sell more than 4,500 copies and in 2014, the Canadian Lung Association nominated Raina for the Heather Crowe Award for raising awareness about lung health.


Raina is currently working on her mother’s biography. “My mother’s life encompassed noteworthy events in history, from leaving Austria-Hungary with her family in 1904 when she was four years old; to travelling by covered wagon across part of the Prairies; to settling in Alberta and living in a sod hut the first winter; to experiencing the devastating drought in the west in the ‘30s,” says Raina. While this book is not for children, she continues to love children’s books and her role in inspiring a sheer joy of reading in children. “I just want to entertain children and make them laugh and smile,” she says. “With each children’s book, I want to pass on to a child the love of reading and words. I hope to make them hunger to explore more books.”




Anne Raina’s tips for getting kids to enjoy reading


  • Start reading to them from the time they are just a few months old.
  • Be enthusiastic. “Let them hear through your voice inflections your own enjoyment of reading,” Raina says. “They will quickly make the association between a book and the sounds of pleasure in your voice.”
  • Once children are old enough to start understanding the words and pictures, Raina suggests making comments about the story you are going to read before even opening the book.
  • Ask them what they think is going to happen in the story.
  • Always ensure that reading time is pleasurable time—not a drudgery for the parent to get through.
  • Make it an interactive experience. Ask them what they like about the story, Raina says. “How do they feel about the characters? Would they like to know them? Why or why not?”





“Reading whets a child’s appetite for expanding their horizons. They can travel along to new places and experience exciting adventures. Their imagination has free rein when immersing themselves in a story. Reading is an avenue for discovery, learning, raising questions.”

– Anne Raina