TORONTO, July 27th, 2020 — First Book Canada, Raptors 905, and Penguin Random House Canada announced today the launch of the Raptors 905 Summer Reading Challenge, sponsored by Tangerine Bank. Designed to keep students reading throughout the summer, 200 grade five students primarily from Peel Region will be challenged to read five books in five weeks, for a cumulative total of 905 minutes of reading.
The five books and authors involved in the program are Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott, Clean Getaway by Nic Stone, What Lane? by Torrey Maldonado, No Small Potatoes by Tonya Bolden, and Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson. These age-appropriate, entertaining books by Black authors represent Black people and other minorities in a positive light, as strong role models who tell stories based on their experiences, fostering empathy, understanding, and a spirit of inclusion among the young readers participating in the challenge.
Students will be asked to read one book per week and write a short report highlighting what they enjoyed and learned from each book. Every Friday throughout the program, they will have the unique opportunity to join a virtual meeting to interact with the author of each book as well as community leaders, including Brampton’s Festival of Literary Diversity, to discuss the themes of the stories, led by Raptors 905 Head Coach Jama Mahlalela.
“This has been a challenging year for many children across the country, who have been out of school and left without access to books and educational resources. Now more than ever, it’s important to keep kids engaged in reading throughout the summer months,” said Tom Best, Executive Director of First Book Canada. “This is why we’re beyond thrilled to be working with Penguin Random House Canada and Raptors 905 on such an important initiative – one that gives children a unique opportunity to connect with celebrated authors and community role models through reading.”
“I’m so excited to be able to participate and help guide some of the discussion around these books and more broadly around some really important issues in our community,” said Head Coach Mahlalela. “I have always been passionate about education and the knowledge that comes through that, and reading is such a valuable tool for kids, and adults, to continually work at and develop.”
“As a proud Raptors 905 partner, we are thrilled to support this incredible program, which will bring young people together through the shared passion for reading, while celebrating stories and authors that represent Black voices,” said Gillian Riley, President & CEO of Tangerine Bank. “During these unprecedented times, it’s initiatives like this that can truly make a difference for our youth and keep them connected when they need it most.”
Penguin Random House Canada VP Marketing & Communications Beth Lockley said, “We’re so pleased to be a part of this program and to be able to give kids access to these wonderful authors and their books. It’s so important that kids see themselves and their experiences reflected in the authors, characters, and stories they read, stories which, at their best, spark young readers’ imaginations and inspire them to dream without limits. Best of all, the Raptors 905 Summer Reading Challenge represents a chance for kids to come together and share their responses to these books during what has been an especially isolating time for them—a perfect illustration of the power of reading to connect us.”
The Raptors 905 Summer Reading Challenge will run from July 27 to September 4. This unique program is in response to the ongoing closures and cancellations due to COVID-19 and is supported by the entire Raptors 905 organization, and every student involved will receive their own physical copy of each of the five books they read to take home and keep.
About First Book Canada
Almost 25% of Canadian households do not have a single book. First Book Canada is transforming the lives of kids in need by making brand new, high quality books and educational resources available on an ongoing basis. Through a market-driven model, First Book Canada is creating equal access to quality education affordable to its member network of more than 12,000 educators who exclusively serve kids in need. Since 2009, First Book Canada has distributed more than 7 million books and educational resources to hundreds of thousands of kids across Canada.
About Penguin Random House Canada
Penguin Random House Canada, the country’s largest book publisher, aims to nourish a universal passion for reading by connecting authors and their writing with readers everywhere. The company publishes over 500 new original titles per year in the North American market across nineteen distinct imprints and distributes another 10,000 titles in Canada on behalf of Penguin Random House publishers in the U.S. and the U.K., and many clients. It has also developed its own internationally recognized Toronto-based audiobook program, and runs an in-house recording studio. Visit penguinrandomhouse.ca for more information.