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All See a Cat, All Get a Book

Donor Gives Picture Book to GRPS First-Graders


How many ways are there to see a cat? All first-graders in the district got to find out after they each received one thanks to an anonymous benefactor. Earlier this month, more than 1,650 students were given a copy of “They All Saw a Cat,” the New York Times bestseller by Brendan Wenzel that with fanciful artwork depicts different creatures’ perceptions of our feline friends.

As in the past three years, a former teacher has donated a hardcover picture book to all GRPS first-graders. The program is managed by the Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation, the fundraising partner of GRPS, and the books are purchased at a discount from Schuler Books & Music. Volunteers delivered them on Nov. 1.

Publisher Chronicle Books supplied each of the 26 classrooms with posters and activity kits, and author Brendan Wenzel visited Shawmut Hills Elementary School via Skype to read the book and answer questions.

The donor, who went to elementary school in Grand Rapids, said she was drawn to the book’s illustrations laid out on double pages and the lively text. “It hit the trifecta for me: colorful, engaging illustrations, repetitive and rhythmic text, and depth in the storyline,” she said. “Being able to talk about how different living things have different viewpoints is a valuable and important lesson.”

“Good Things Happen to Readers is the perfect blend of community support through our generous donor and an emphasis on the importance of early literacy for our students!” said GRPS Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal. “In addition, students are able to add a very special book to their home libraries to enjoy for many years to come. This is such an exciting gift, and I am grateful to the donor for making it possible!”

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They All Saw a Cat

Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation

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Charles Honey
Charles Honey is editor-in-chief of SNN, and covers series and issues stories for all districts. As a reporter for The Grand Rapids Press/mLive from 1985 to 2009, his beats included Grand Rapids Public Schools, local colleges and education issues. Honey served as editor of The Press’ award-winning Religion section for 15 years and its columnist for 20. His freelance articles have appeared in Christianity Today, Religion News Service and Faith & Leadership magazine. Read Charles' full bio

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