Reading Celebrations go virtual with Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Souvankham Thammavongsa

First Book Canada to host Scotiabank Giller Prize Reading events for grade 12 students across Canada

TORONTO, Tuesday, December 1st, 2020—First Book Canada will host five Reading Celebrations for senior students at high-needs secondary schools across Canada with Scotiabank Giller Prize winner, Souvankham Thammavongsa.  Thammavongsa was awarded the Scotiabank Giller prize on November 9th, 2020, for her short story collection, How to Pronounce Knife.

The five schools chosen are as follows:

  • St. James Collegiate– Winnipeg, MB
  • Kwantlen Park Secondary School– Surrey, BC
  • Saint Lambert International High School– Saint Lambert, QC
  • Father Lacombe High School– Calgary, AB
  • Mount Royal Collegiate– Saskatoon, SK

Each of the five schools will be visited virtually by Thammavongsa, where she will speak about her experience, inspiration and process of writing her award-winning collection. The students will have the opportunity to speak directly to Thammavongsa to ask questions and reflect on the stories with the author and their classmates. Each student participating will also receive a signed copy of How to Pronounce Knife  to take home.

The Scotiabank Giller Prize Reading Celebrations will be recorded and made available online by First Book Canada to the network of secondary schools across Canada to give more students the chance to hear from Thammavongsa.

The wonderful opportunity to host the five reading celebrations would not be possible without the help of Scotiabank and its dedication to literacy and First Book Canada’s mission over the past year.

Thammavongsa answers students questions over video chat

“The partnership between the Scotiabank Giller Prize and First Book Canada is a natural fit. We are delighted that this year’s winner, Souvankham Thammavongsa, has deemed it a priority to share her experiences as a new Canadian with high school kids in high-needs neighbourhoods, and give them an opportunity to share theirs.”
-Elana Rabinovitch  – Executive Director, Scotiabank Giller Prize

“Congratulations to Souvankham Thammavongsa, the 2020 winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Scotiabank has proudly stood as the title sponsor of the Scotiabank Giller Prize since 2005 and looks forward to continuing to highlight Canada’s extraordinary literary talent through this partnership. For Souvankham, we hope this recognition presents new opportunities and we welcome her to the Scotiabank Giller Prize family. In a year like no other, Canadian authors remain at the top of their craft.”
-John Doig – Executive Vice President, Retail Distribution, Scotiabank

How to Pronounce Knife is a remarkable collection of idiosyncratic and diverse stories. Capturing the daily lives of immigrants, Souvankham Thammavongsa eloquently describes their hopes, disappointments, trauma and acts of defiance. We feel so fortunate to have her speaking with senior high school students across the country in our First Book Canada network. All the students participating will be receiving a signed copy of her award-winning book. Like her book, Souvankham is a very generous and inspiring author.”
Tom Best – Executive Director, First Book Canada 

About First Book Canada
Almost 25 per cent 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 11,000 educators who exclusively serve kids in need. Since 2009, First Book Canada has distributed more than seven million books and educational resources to hundreds of thousands of kids across Canada.

Eligible educators, program coordinators, librarians, and professionals serving kids in need can register at For more information, visit and follow our latest news on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

 About the Prize
The Giller Prize, founded by Jack Rabinovitch in 1994, highlights the very best in Canadian fiction year after year. In 2005, the Prize teamed up with Scotiabank who increased the winnings four-fold. The Scotiabank Giller Prize now awards $100,000 annually to the author of the best Canadian novel, short story collection, or graphic novel published in English, and $10,000 to each of the finalists. The award is named in honour of the late literary journalist Doris Giller by her husband Toronto businessman Jack Rabinovitch, who passed away in August 2017.


For media inquiries, contact:

Tom Best, Executive Director
First Book Canada
866.732.3669 ext. 0130