More than 500,000 Canadian Grade 1 students to receive picture book Chaiwala! by Priti Birla Maheshwari

The TD Grade One Book Giveaway delivers picture books to every Grade 1 student in Canada.

The TD Grade One Book Giveaway delivers picture books to every Grade 1 student in Canada

A photo composite that shows a picture of the author on the left who is a woman with long black hair wearing a black blouse tank top and a pearl necklace, the picture book's cover in the middle which has an illustration of a man pouring chai tea into a cup while a mother and daughter watch with blue and red text overlay that is the book's title and author name, and the illustrator's headshot on the right which is a woman with long brown hair and wearing a yellow cardigan over a red-dotted black tank top.
Chaiwala! is a picture book by Priti Birla Maheshwari (left), illustrated by Ashley Barron. (Owlkids)

Chaiwala!, written by Priti Birla Maheshwari and illustrated by Ashley Barron, is the title selected for the annual TD Grade One Book Giveaway for 2023.

The selection, made in May, also celebrates Asian Heritage Month. 

Since 2000, the Canadian Children's Book Centre (CCBC) has organized the giveaway to deliver Canadian children's picture books to every Grade 1 student in Canada. More than 12 million books have been distributed to Canadian students since its inception. 

CCBC is also collaborating with CNIB Beyond Print for the second year, to provide accessible formats, including print braille editions.

The books will be given to the students in fall 2023. 

WATCH | The 2023 book selection revealed:

Inspired by Maheshwari's childhood visits to India, Chaiwala! is a picture book about family, food, travel and culture. When a train stops at a station in Jaipur, India, a girl and her mother hurry to line up at the Chaiwala's cart for chai.

As they wait for their order, and then find a spot to sit, they breathe in scents of ginger, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon sticks. They hear the tea leaves rustle, sweet milk bubbles and the steaming spiced tea being poured back and forth until the cups are filled. 

Readers experience the sights, smells and sounds of the Chaiwala's cart, and Jaipur's train station. 

Born in New Delhi, India, Maheshwari is an author and teacher based in Ontario. Chaiwala! is her first picture book. 

"I am so excited and honoured that Chaiwala! has been selected for the TD Grade One Book Giveaway program," Maheshwari said in a press statement. "As a teacher myself, it's wonderful to see children developing a love for reading and learning about the importance of culture and diversity. Every child should be able to see themselves in the books they read."

Barron is a multimedia artist and illustrator based in Toronto. She has illustrated a number of children's books, including My City Speaks and My Ocean is Blue, both written by Darren Lebeuf.

"The book is an ode to living in the moment. It's a celebration of the senses and an insight into a very special drink — chai — and how it's crafted. I hope every child who reads the book is inspired to celebrate their own favourite food and drink," said Barron in a press statement. 

French immersion students will receive the French translation of the book, also entitled Chaiwala! The book was translated by Benoit Laflamme.

The annual initiative seeks to foster the love of reading and learning in children. 

"Each child will receive their own copy to take home, share with their families, and read as often as they like," CCBC's executive director, Sarah Sahagian, said in a press statement. "Early literacy is the foundation of a successful academic career, and all children have the right to read great books." 

Past titles from the program include Malaika's Costume, written by Nadia L. Hohn and illustrated by Irene Luxbacher, My Heart Fills With Happiness/sâkaskinêw nitêh miywêyihtamowin ohci by Monique Gray Smith and illustrated by Julie Flett, Small Saul by Ashley Spires, Alligator Stew written by Dennis Lee and illustrated by Rogé and Moira's Birthday by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko.

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