This year, every first grade student in Canada will receive a copy of My Heart Fills with Happiness/sâkaskinêw nitêh miywêyihtamowin ohci, a picture book by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Julie Flett, and published by Orca. In all, more than 550,000 copies of the book will be distributed across the country.
The giveaway, which started in 2000, is officially called the TD Grade One Book Giveaway and is administered by the Canadian Children’s Book Center. For the first time, the book being given away is a dual-language book in an Indigenous language, and features in addition to English or French text, corresponding text in Plains Cree. In another first, the CCBC has partnered with the CNIB Foundation, a charity that assists the visually impaired, to distribute print/braille editions to blind and partially sighted first graders.
Over the past 19 years, the TD Grade One Book Giveaway has distributed some 9.5 million free books to children. These include books by authors and illustrators such as Paulette Bourgeois, Marie-Louise Gay, Dennis Lee, Michael Martchenko, and Barbara Reid.
“Through its moving imagery and words, My Heart Fills with Happiness is helping children build literacy skills, while contributing to a more inclusive tomorrow through its Cree and print/Braille editions,” said Andrea Barrack, global head of sustainability and corporate citizenship at TD Bank Group, in a statement.
A launch of the program will take place on September 24 at the Central Library in Vancouver, B.C., and will feature a reading by the book’s author and activities for local first graders. Classroom resources for teachers are available online.