Author delivers literacy message to area students

FORT FRANCES—Award-winning Canadian author and presenter David Bouchard offered an important message about literacy last week to a number of area students, as well as some parents.
“Reading is not just about success, but about feeling good,” Bouchard stressed to Grade 6-8 students at Robert Moore School on Thursday afternoon.
“It’s about self-esteem.”
Bouchard started off by talking about his family—his sons (aged 30, 26, and 25), his daughters (ages 22 and nine), and his wife, Vicki—sharing significant, and sometimes humorous, stories about them.
He indicated his older sons don’t read. Instead, one is addicted to video games.
“He is suffering in life because I didn’t read to him as a child, because I let him watch video games,” he said.
And the reason Bouchard didn’t read to his children was because he wasn’t a reader.
“I didn’t read a book until I was 27 years old,” he admitted, noting he got through school by lying and tricking his teachers. This was partly due to his dyslexia.
But he stressed that he shouldn’t have lied to get through school because even once you finish school, society is meant for readers.
“If you don’t read, when you get out of school, you will suffer,” he warned, saying his son had a difficult time trying to get a job once he was out of school.
Bouchard indicated he first thought he’d like to get into selling real estate, but you need to pass an exam first. His son failed the exam five times.
Then he thought he’d become a mailman, but you also have to pass a general proficiency exam for that job—even though it simply requires you to deliver letters and packages.
“If you don’t read, you’re not good at exams,” Bouchard explained. “I told my son ‘You’re not stupid—you just don’t read.’
“I’m not a good reader, but I love books,” he remarked. “When you watch TV, your brain goes nowhere. But when you read a book, you use your imagination and you can go so many places.”
Bouchard said he began to use poetry and rhythm in his stories—something he was introduced to by one of his sons, who is “a rapper.”
He believes poetry is rap. And he demonstrates the power of rhythm in several of his books.
“I write books for kids who aren’t good readers,” Bouchard indicated. “The trick is to turn off the TV and find a book you like. Then find one more, then another.”
Using poetry with enticing rhythms, Bouchard wrote 17 books for his son.
He stressed to the students that if they read, they will be able to one day pass reading onto their children.
“Do it for your kids because you’ll want to share that with them,” he added.
Bouchard kept the students entertained with his powerful presentation and interaction with them. He played a few games with them, and gave away two of his books and several signed bookmarks.
He is the author of several popular books, including “If You’re Not from the Prairie,” “The Song Within My Heart,” and “The Elders are Watching.”
Hailing from British Columbia, Bouchard is Métis, although he grew up knowing nothing of his Métis roots. Now he is president of the Métis Nation Greater Victoria.
“He talks about the importance of reading and how it’s important to read with your child,” noted Brent Tookenay. “And also how it helps you later on in life.
“It’s a pretty simple message, but he delivers it in a really meaningful way.”
The Rainy River District School Board, in partnership with area First Nations and the Seven Generations Education Institute, brought Bouchard into several local schools and First Nation communities to deliver this message.
In addition, the presentations are provided in conjunction with the Aboriginal Parent Outreach Initiatives and are linked with Family Literacy Day, which was celebrated nationally back on Jan. 27.
Students from J.W. Walker also attended the presentation at Robert Moore School on Thursday afternoon.
Bouchard also spoke at Huffman School here, Donald Young School in Emo, and Rainy River First Nations and Couchiching during his two-day visit to the area.
He will return April 7-10 to provide more presentations to students and parents.
He is scheduled to speak to students at Atikokan High School and North Star elementary school there on April 7, then will make a presentation to parents from 4-7 p.m.
The next day, he will attend Crossroads School in Devlin in the morning, with a dinner and presentation at Naicatchewenin First Nation from 5-7 p.m.
Bouchard will speak at Fort Frances High School on April 9, followed by a presentation for parents from 6-8 p.m. at the Townshend Theatre.
Then on April 10, Bouchard will address students and parents in Rainy River, with a dinner and presentation at Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nation from 5-7 p.m.
“Everyone is welcome to come out and listen to David,” Tookenay noted, especially referring to the evening sessions. “He’s going to have books available and there will be draw prizes. . . .”
Tookenay added they are expecting plenty of more worthwhile presentations from Bouchard when he returns.
(Fort Frances Times)