Do you know about the annual TD Grade One Book Giveaway? If you have a child over the age of six, you probably do, because that child has likely arrived home from school in grade one with a brand new book to call his or her own. This year’s grade ones will have arrived with this hilarious book written by Loris Lesynski and illustrated by Michael Martchenko. Boy Soup is the 2013 Canadian children’s book that Grade One students across the country received from Canada’s largest free-book distribution program for school-aged kids. For the past thirteen years, TD Bank and the Canadian Children’s Book Centre have organized this giveaway to encourage a love of reading in the children who are at the age where reading is their greatest focus in school.
Check out the books that have been given away in previous years. I remember teaching grade one the years that When Jeremiah Found Mrs. Ming and The Girl Who Hated Books were distributed. The children were thrilled to receive their new books. I had returned from maternity leave and was thrilled to hear about the program. A part of me was thinking of the school I had left two years previously where a number of my students had so little. I imagined their reaction. It would be the first new book some of them had ever owned.
My son entered grade one the following year and brought home Omar On Ice. He was just started to play hockey at that time, and I can’t imagine how many times we read that story, even on the first day it arrived home. His dad was thrilled with it, which was a big deal, because daddy wasn’t really into reading books.
Three years later, the The Zlooksh arrived home with our daughter. It’s wacky pictures caught her attention. We read it together a few times, and she just pored over the pictures. She liked having her brother read it to her, and before we knew it, she was sitting on her bed, surrounded by stuffed kittens, reading it to them.
This program is fantastic. There is something about a child receiving a book of their own that builds a certain pride in them. The age is perfect. Grade one is the big reading year. And if that child knows reading as an enjoyable activity, a rite of passage into ‘big-kid’ school, a source of comfort, that in itself is far more important than any reading level. The grown ups can put strategies in place to work on that.
And to those school boards who have blocked this initiative based on the placement of TD’s tiny logo…consider this: Research tells us that positive reading experiences play a big part in laying the foundation for future success across curriculum and into other important areas of children’s lives. Do you really want to be responsible for preventing an opportunity for children to feel pride and excitement about reading, when it is too late to change? Could some kind of agreement be put in place for next year that would put everyone at ease enough to send Boy Soup home this year?
To see a funny animation of Boy Soup, click here: