Sharon DeVellis: Inside Scoop


2013 TD Grade One Book Giveaway: Boy Soup

Giving the Gift of Reading to Canadian Grade One Students

Encourage Your Kids To Read

Who doesn't like getting something for free? I get excited when I get a free sample in the mail so excited your child would be if one day he went to school and came home with a brand new book that was his to keep.

That's exactly what's going to happen for thousands of grade one kids across Canada thanks to the TD Grade One Book Giveaway.

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t read but my most vivid memory of a book was from when I was seven years old. My dad was in the Air Force and we were transferred. We had to move from my home in New Brunswick to Manitoba. It took a week of driving to get there which left plenty of time to read, and there were no iPods or DVD players back in those days. I don’t remember much of the trip but I do remember reading Charlotte’s Web and when I got to the part about Charlotte dying, I sobbed uncontrollably. Partly because my heart was breaking for Wilbur, partly because it allowed me to let out all my own sadness because I had left behind my best friend Cathy.

I wasn't just sad for Wilbur who had just lost his friend, I was Wilbur.

Good stories stick with you—they provide you with peace, comfort, excitement, adventure, and everything in between. Our house is strewn with books, and yes, I am old-school in that I like a book. A real book. There is no electronic reading for me.

So it makes sense that books are my Achilles heel. I will say no to my boys when it comes to tech and games, but if they ask for a book, the answer is always yes. I want my boys to be avid readers and will do anything to encourage it.

That’s why I love the TD program. Organized in association with the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, the TD Grade One Book Giveaway is the largest, free-book distribution program to school-aged children in Canada. Thanks to TD, every year since 2000, Grade One students across Canada receive a free copy of a Canadian children's book to keep.

My boys are well beyond the Grade one age so you may be wondering why I’m writing about this program. (1) Because I want all kids to have the same love of reading that I do, and (2) because both of my sons were recipients of books from the TD Grade One Book Giveaway. 

In 2007, my older son received The Zlooksh by Dominique Demers.

Three years later my younger son brought home Caramba by Marie-Louise Gay.

I didn’t even know the TD Grade One Book Giveaway existed; I only know that both times my kids were flushed with excitement when I picked them up with school. They couldn’t wait to show me their "Brand-new book, Mom! For free! They just gave it to us!" And the very first thing we did when we got home from school on each of those days, even before their backpacks were put away and jackets hung up, was sit down and read this brand new book together. Both books were read time and time again until eventually, my boys outgrew them and we donated the two books to a program where other children would read and enjoy the stories.

This year, the TD Grade One Book Giveaway book is one that will capture both girls and boys—Boy Soup written by Loris Lesynski and illustrated by Michael Martchenko.

Boy Soup is about a giant who wakes up one morning with a cold. He looks into his own book, "The Giant’s Home Medical Guide," and learns that if he makes a big bowl of soup made from little boys, it will make him feel better. The boys may have been easy to catch but thanks to the heroine of the story, Kate, all might not be lost. (Click to see a fun animated version of Boy Soup.)

This rhyming story (which we all have to admit, reading a story that rhymes is much more fun than reading a regular story) is whimsical and fun and when I asked my older son—who has moved on to loftier novels—what he thought of it, he said, “I think little kids will like it. I would have liked to get it when I was in grade one.”

If your child is one of the lucky kids to receive this book this year, enjoy the story and enjoy the time you’ll spend reading together. And if you can, please share your reading story with me and what your child thought of Boy Soup.

If you want to continue to inspire and encourage your kids to read, here are some other great book recommendations.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I may go re-read Charlotte’s Web.

Want to inspire a love of reading in your children?

Check out some great ideas and more stories by moms on our Get Kids Reading page.

And to find out more about TD’s Children Literacy initiatives visit