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Hammering home literacy

by Kelsey Spohn / Edmonton Oilers

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“The more that you read, the more things you know. The more that you learn, the more places you will go.”

Dr. Seuss’ famed words decorate the library’s wall at Princeton School and the message couldn’t have been clearer on March 17 as Grade 1 students were treated to a special guest reader, Rob Klinkhammer. While the Oilers forward might be used to hitting the ice, today he was hitting the books as he helped launch the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation’s (EOCF) annual EPCOR Share A Book program.

“Youth literacy is a key focus for the EOCF and the EPCOR Share A Book program was conceived in order to spark the imaginations of young minds,” said Natalie Minckler, EOCF Executive Director. “Books ignite a love of reading that can last a lifetime and are essential for lifelong development, yet many children from low-income families have no books, or very few, to call their own.”

Since its inception in 2007, the EOCF has been providing new books and book bags to Grade 1 students across Northern Alberta, ensuring the joy of reading is not limited by a student’s financial means. To date, more than 23,000 books have been distributed to over 11,500 students across Oil Country.

“We’re proud to partner with the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation to deliver the EPCOR Share A Book program because it helps to ensure that access to books – and a love of reading – are not limited by financial means,” said David Stevens, EPCOR President and CEO. “EPCOR knows that supporting young people on their educational journey is key to building strong communities.”

This year’s EPCOR book bags were equipped with two great stories, Jillian Jiggs and the Great Big Snow and Puckster’s First Hockey Game. Grade 1 students were also treated to EPCOR Flash and Splash plush toys and special EPCOR hard hats.

Princeton School Grade 1 teacher Donna Campbell jumped at the chance to involve her students in the literacy project.

“I love getting the kids involved in reading and so this is a great opportunity for them to have books if they don’t have any at home because some kids do come to school here without having any books at home,” shared Campbell. “Every day we engage our students in reading. We read in the classroom and we have a daily home reading program so these books will surely be enjoyed.”

While Mrs. Campbell is a pro in the classroom, she was thrilled to pass the reading torch over to a different kind of pro, Klinkhammer, who jumped in to share one of the books with the Grade 1 class.

“He was so fun with the kids, he’s definitely someone they can look up to.”

After reading, Klinkhammer opened the floor for questions and was sure to emphasize his love of literacy.

“Reading and growing your imagination is a big part of learning and a skill you need in every step of your life,” shared Klinkhammer. “If this program can encourage kids to read more and enjoy it then it’s a huge positive for this community.”

Reading certainly spurs the imagination and after today’s special guest reader, Grade 1 students at Princeton School will surely have many stories to tell.

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