Video: COMMUNITY | Share A Book
"Every single person on a team is important."
This was the key message from Puckster's First Hockey Game - a children's novel written by Lorna Schultz Nicholson.
As one of eight books in the Puckster series, Nicholson read Puckster's First Hockey Game to an eager room full of Grade 1 students from Princeton Elementary School on Tuesday, March 21.
"All the Puckster books have a meaning behind them," explained Nicholson. "This one is really about teamwork, support and being good friends."
In support of the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (EOCF) Share A Book launch, the special guest reader not only shared the joy of reading with the students, but she also spent time engaging with the children and answering their questions about what it was like to be an author.
"To me reading is such an important thing," she said. "If you're an author and you get the chance to come to a school and talk to kids and encourage them to read, it's such an inspiration."
In keeping with the hockey theme, each student not only received a signed copy of Nicholson's book, but they also took home a copy of The HOME Team Edmonton Oilers by Holly Preston.
"I got some Oilers books!" beamed 6-year-old Mason.
"I read everyday," he added with a grin that had not dissipated from the moment he received his new books.
But before the morning of fun came to a close, another special guest surprised the students.
Sharing high-fives with all of the kids, Hunter, the Oilers Mascot, joined Nicholson to help wrap-up the exciting event.
"If you could see the faces of the kids - they just light-up when they opened up the books," said Grade 1 Teacher Ina Knezevic.
She added, "Having the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation come in is fantastic because the kids get some books [to take home] and not everybody has books in our area."
Since its inception in 2007, the EOCF has helped to promote literacy, and provide new books and book bags to Grade 1 students across Northern Alberta through the Share A Book program.
"We've been running the program for over 10 years now and we've distributed more than 33 thousand books to 16,700 low-income students across Oil Country," said EOCF Executive Director Natalie Minckler.
This year, the EOCF will have distributed approximately 5,000 books to 2,500 students - each containing a copy of Puckster's First Hockey Game and The HOME Team Edmonton Oilers.
"The Share A Book program was developed to ensure that the love of reading was not limited by a student's financial means," Minckler added.
Not only have these books helped to teach the students more about one of Canada's most beloved sports, but the Share A Book program continues to promote literacy, while sharing messages of teamwork, inclusion and friendship.