With 10K books in a transport truck, Stephenville Elementary turning the page on child literacy

Almost 25 per cent of Canadian households don't own a single book — that's according to First Book Canada who in partnership with Scotiabank just shipped a transport truck filled with 10,000 books to Stephenville to distribute to children in need.

"The importance of this is to have books for kids to read. If there's no books available for them to read then they are never going to develop that skill," said Monique Alexander, a Grade 4 teacher at Stephenville Elementary.

Alexander has been teaching for 15 years, but it's her first at Stephenville Elementary. She told CBC Radio's Newfoundland Morning there weren't even any books inside of her new classroom due to student enrolment increases this year.

She said the school's slim pickings meant there was little variety to pique a student's interest in picking up a book.

The dismal selection now boasts stories about super heroes, Star Wars and Disney princesses, thanks to its recent delivery.

Troy Turner/CBC
Troy Turner/CBC

"When kids see that on the cover they're intrigued to take those books in and read them. Some of the older books in our classrooms and in our classroom libraries currently are books that I read as a kid, or even my parents read as a kid, and they're just not interesting to the kids of today," she said.

"So coming in here today and being able to pick from all of these books here, [with] a variety of interests for kids, was truly a wonderful experience."

And while Alexander embraces the shift as books move from paper to tablets and computers, she added it's still important to have physical copies inside of homes so that the medium doesn't fade as technology advance.

Young minds embrace reading

For Stephenville Elementary student Alex Ballard, reading is as good as anything else for entertainment, but the educational value hasn't been lost on the Grade 5 student either.

From sports, to Star Wars, to anything to do with super heroes, Ballard estimates that he's read nearly 2000 books since he first fell in love with literature in pre-school.

Troy Turner/CBC
Troy Turner/CBC

"I like being quiet, and just sitting down and having peace and just reading," he said, adding that English literature is one of his favourite classes in school.

As for the donation, Ballard said the books will certainly help fulfil the needs of a lot of readers.

Ballard's convinced he'll be a life-long reader.

First Book Canada has been in operation since 2009. Since that time the organization has distributed more than seven million books and educational resources to hundreds of thousands of kids across Canada.

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