Sunday, July 19, 2020

Covid-19 and the Gift of Reading

Covid-19 and the Gift of Reading

Has there ever been a better time to focus on reading than now, when teachers, parents and kids alike are forced to stay home?

The Gift of Reading: Amazon.ca: Bouchard, David, Sutton, Wendy: BooksJust how much can one do at home during a pandemic if they do not read? There are only so many movies and so many series on television. There are only so many hours that can be spent in front of a video game or a computer. At some point, reading will start to look good, even to non-readers.

I welcome the opportunity to speak to your staff or professional group on this important topic of reading. My agent/friend Chris is easily accessible for any questions/suggestionsSimply click here...

For those who are not familiar with my book The Gift of Reading, this is a brief overview.

In it, I detail the three elements it takes to become a reader - the necessities based on the teachings of Maria Montessori.

1. Time. Children will read when they are ready. To think that we can force four year olds to read because we seem to be of the notion that this will give them a leg up on other students when the educational race begins is simply wrong. Every child is unique and will read when it pleases them, not someone else.

2. A hero. There are exceptions to every rule, but the rule is that every child needs a hero to look up to...someone who will give them the gift of reading.

3. Books. To want to read, the reader has to be able to see themselves in a book and has to have the skills necessary to read/to access that book. And these books do exist. Books that include readers  and are accessible to them. It is for us to find and share them.

There are three main reasons that the gift of reading is the single greatest gift we can offer our youth:
  1. No matter how poor, underprivileged, shy or challenged a child might be, it is through reading that he or she can best access anyone or anything, at any time in history. 
  2. Reading empowers and offers a sense of fullness. Readers have full tanks. Non-readers run on fumes. 
  3. Readers can succeed in school. Non-readers are destined to struggle if not fail. Sadly, even children who might have reading in them, but who are slow starters, usually fall  in  that category. Our schools are not serving all our children; they are serving children who read. And more and more, they are serving children who read at an early age. 

And there are three major obstacles in giving the gift of reading:

For the Love of Reading: Bouchard, David, Letain, Anne ...1. Poor modeling from parents and educators

2. An obsession with the electronic screen

3. Excessive testing and poor educational practices

Many parents and educators are not aware of their roles in promoting literacy. And of those who are, many are finding the process challenging.

There is no magic in doing what has to be done. There is no toy or program that can do the job for us. Promoting reading takes time, commitment and most of all, fire. We cannot hope to build a fire in the heart of others without a flame burning in our own. Light and stoke your fires, then spread the flame fast and furious. Let literacy be your legacy.

In upcoming blogs, I will offer a few suggestions on what books might appeal to various age and interest groups.

And again, I welcome the opportunity to speak to your staff or professional group on this important topic of reading. My agent/friend Chris is easily accessible for any questions/suggestions. Simply click here...

Maya Angelou: “Parents do what we know how. When we know better, we do better.” 

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Proud to be Metis

Dennis and I created the best selling The Secret of Your Name (Red Deer Publisher) a few years back.

In our most recent collaboration, Proud to be Metis ¨(Rubicon Publisher), Master Metis artist, Dennis Weber and I again take on the frustration felt by countless Metis whose history, birthrights and responsibilities to their ancestors were denied them first by their own families and then by other Metis whose motives were, as is so often the case in today's world, power and money.

Dennis' passion is portraiture.

What if we were to create a book based on key Metis personnages dating from the exodus from Quebec and other Eastern provinces right up to today.

What if we were to draw up a list of influential Metis and ask them to pose for the artist Dennis? What would be their response? And how might that book take shape?

Our list would obviously include Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont but what others might we want to  highlight in such a way that our readers could better understand both our plight and our history.

And would this grouping only feature Metis men and  women? No. There is one Scottish woman whose strength and courage founded a long string of Manitoba Metis.

And would this grouping only feature Metis who were faithful to Louis Riel? No. There is, among them, a Metis who spent much of his life working as a guide for the North West Mounted Police who themselves proved to play a vital role in denying Metis and First Nations their rights. .

That is it then. Oh...our book is written in English/French/Michif...on one side and in English on the opposite side. We have also included a glossary of the roughly 100 Michif words.

And finally...every page features and old French song that Metis would have been sung as they jigged around the campfire. Don't recognize the song? Not a problem. Our book comes with a free download. Download it and allow me to read and sing it for you. Dennis is shy and doesn't sing.

Marcee/Tawnshi/Thank you.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

If you're not from  the Prairie

For me, it started with If You're not from the Prairie. I won't speak to the successes and opportunities this book has afforded me only to say that it was on McLean's list of the top 20 children's books in the history of Canada, along with Love you Forever and The Hockey Sweater. I don't know the exact sales number today but at last count, it was over 400,000 copies. I know. Crazy!

I had never planned on being a writer let alone a public speaker (although my schoolmates will accuse me of being somewhat of a ham). Nevertheless, this is where life has taken me and it started with If You're not from the Prairie.

Thirty years after it's release, I still get tons of responses and accolades. I'd like to share two recent experiences with you.

A month ago, Canada's respected Metis Elder George Goulet reached out to me saying that he would like to purchase a copy of If You're not from the Prairie. As if! As if I would take money from a man who along with his amazing wife Terry has given so much to Metis people. I autographed and sent George a copy.
This week, I received the following:

"Your generosity in sending us a copy of your wonderful book is only exceeded by your thoughtfulness in doing so.
The evocative verbal images your poetic narrative displayed read like a prairie poem. The images of prairie scenes drawn by Henry Ripplinger reminded George of going to visit his grandfather at his farm in Prairie Grove, Manitoba, about twenty-five miles from Winnipeg, when George was little more than a toddler.
You and George are both Prairie-born Metis and our early childhood is something to cherish.
Our hearts were warmed by both you and the book. Thank you so much.
Your Friends, George and Terry." 

During the same week, I received this email from an old friend - old in that Colette is retiring and old in that we became friends over thirty years ago. 

You may remember the sister book my kids wrote (circa 1987-90) in response to If You're Not from the North  in preparation for your visit to Rossville School Norway House, Mb. during one of our Writers' Festivals.  
Several years later, I attended a talk you gave for teachers in River East Transcona S.D.. I almost feel off my chair when you pulled out the ragged blue duo tang containing my kids' response poem!!! all those years later.  
Today, I speak in front of the staff, as I am retiring from teaching. I have been asked to speak on the highlight(s) of my career.  So, please add, to the many accolades you have received, one more - Most Memorable Highlight of Colette Wallace's Teaching Career 
Thirty years later, I still have it! 
Keep writing for your people,Colette Wallace
I will NOT leave you in the lurch. Here is a short taste of the amazing gift Colette and her kids gave me all those years ago.. 

In If You're not from the Prairie, I wrote... 

If You're not from the Prairie, you can't know me...you just can't know me. You see...my hair's mostly wind, my eyes filled with grit, my skin's white then brown, my lips chapped and  split...I've lain on the prairie and heard grasses sigh. I've stared at the vast open bown in the sky. I've seen all those castles and faces in clouds. My home is the prairie and for that I am proud. If You've not from the Prairie... 

Colette's kids wrote - 

If You're not from the North, you don't know me - you just can't know me... 

You see...

My hair is woven in legends
My eyes are filled with nature
My skin could be many shades of earth
My lips form ancient languages

If you're not from the North
You don't know what you're missing
You just can't know what you're missing... 

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

La francophonie et la culture autochtone

"Merci beaucoup de nous avoir ouvert votre belle "shack" et d'avoir illuminé notre dernière journée de classe en ligne.

Avec le partage de votre livre On apprend du soleil, vos passions et votre héritage et vos interactions bienveillantes, vous avez conquis les élèves qui auraient pu converser avec vous toute la journée !

C'était vraiment une expérience fantastique pour les élèves et un beau moyen de célébrer la culture de vos aïeux qui nous unit tous ici au Canada.

Merci encore et à très bientôt, Minawaa giga-waabamin,"

La mise en œuvre des recommandations de la Commission
 de vérité et réconciliation est une priorité dans toutes nos écoles, dans chaque classe. Et bien ça devrait l'être. En décembre 2015, la Commission a publié 94 «appels à l'action» pour que les Canadiens autochtones et non autochtones se réunissent dans un effort concerté pour aider à réparer les dommages causés par les pensionnats indiens. Collectivement, nous avons accepté nos rôles et responsabilités.

Les éducateurs craignent, à juste titre, que les peuples autochtones ne s’offusquent de l’utilisation d’histoires et d’expériences autochtones. Les éducateurs sont inquiets et pourtant prêts à intervenir. Ici, je peux vous aider.

Grâce à Zoom, Meet, Team, "FB live" et l'une des plateformes de médias sociaux, je suis en mesure de faire partie de votre enseignement en classe, de votre personnel professionnel, de votre réunion du conseil d'administration, des réunions de parents, des conférences ...

C'est le début juillet et j'ai déjà eu accès à presque tous les groupes imaginables (en anglais et en français). Si vous souhaitez en savoir plus, veuillez contacter Chris Patrick, mon ami et mon agent. Il est incroyablement facile à atteindre. Avec son aide, il sera facile de rassembler quelque chose.

bouchardbookings@shaw.ca ...sans frais 866-786-4237

Monday, July 6, 2020

Virtual Professional Development

"I wanted to let you know how grateful I am to have had you connect with our staff. I had been reflecting on why I reached out to you, and how I felt that you would be the perfect fit on our journey as educators to better understand how to weave Indigenous ways of knowing and learning with our focus on recognising strengths, unique gifts and talents and knowing your values. I listened and acknowledged the 'signs' that this was the right path....and it was!

The presentation was informal, organic and you were able to showcase your gifts as 'storyteller' while providing our teachers with excellent examples and knowledge. 

I hope we are able to continue our work together, I am excited about future connections with staff AND our students and families!

Again, thank you for today, for your stories, for sharing and building our confidence!"

Have a wonderful rest of your day! I am sure we will be connecting soon.

Implementing the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is a priority in all our schools, in every classroom. And well it should be. In December of 2015, the Commission published 94 'calls to action'  for indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians to come together in a concerted effort to help repair the harm caused by residential schools. Collectively, we have accepted our roles and responsibilities(BTW, had we earlier dealt with the numerous inequalities and injustices, the Commission woould not have been necessary.)

Educators are understandably concerned that Indigenous people will take offense by the use of Indigenous stories and experiences. Educators are worried and yet ready to step up to the plate. Here, I can help.

Through Zoom, Meet, Team, FB live and any one of a growing number of social media platforms, I am able to become part of your classroom instruction, your staff pro-d, your board meeting, parent gatherings, conferences...  

It is early July and I have already had access to almost every group imaginable (in English et en francais). If you would like to talk more about how I might be able to help you and just how that can be arranged, please reach out to Chris Patrick, my friend and agent. He is amazingly easy to reach and talk to. Together, it will be easy to put something together. 
bouchardbookings@shaw.ca  toll free 866-786-4237 

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Je parle et j'écris en français

Mon père, Wilbrod Bouchard, était un bleuet du Lac St. Jean. Nous, on est des Savards, des Tremblays, des Pilotes et ben d'autres lignes française...et parmi nous, il n'y a pas un nom anglais. 

Maman elle, elle était une Mercier et de son côté, on est des Merciers, des Allards, des Beaudoins et des Charbonnots...et encore une fois, pas un nom anglais. 

En bref, le  français, c'est ma langue (et le bras que vous voyez ici est le mien). 

C'est ma langue m'a permis de trouver de l'emploi sur la côte ouest du Canada. C'est ma langue qui m'a amené à Paris pour le Salon du Livre chaque printemps depuis 15 ans. Ma langue est l'un de mes nombreux cadeaux. Je célèbre ma langue et ma culture dans tout ce que je fais ... dans tout ce que je suis. Je suis fransaskois.

Et puis vint Covid-19

Mon agent et moi avons organisé notre premier webinaire il y a un mois et  depuis ce temps, nous avons été très occupés. 

Une grande partie de mon travail en ligne est en français.

J'ai travaillé une semaine entière avec une école à St. Albert, en Alberta. J'ai eu une merveilleuse expérience avec l'École Monseigneur de Laval à Regina. Je vais offrir quatre présentations aux administrateurs et aux enseignants francophones de l'Alberta.

Je ne retournerai peut-être pas à Paris cette année pour le Salon du Livre (bien que cela reste à voir) mais cela ne m'empêche pas de partager mes apprentissages et mon amour de la lecture et des livres avec les élèves, les éducateurs et les parents.

l'équipe à  l'école secondaire Jules -Vernes à Vancouver

En fait, c'est tout le contraire. Le coût du vol, de la location de voitures et de chambres d'hôtel, de manger dans les restaurants, etc… est souvent prohibitif. Cela coûte très cher aux communautés éloignées en particulier. Aujourd'hui, cependant, il suffit de quelques ordinateurs et de la connectivité. Il convient toutefois de noter que tous n'ont pas accès aux ordinateurs ni à la connectivité Wi-Fi. C'est quelque chose que tous les Canadiens devraient comprendre et devraient s'efforcer de corriger.

J'ai plus de vingt-cinq livres en français. Celles-ci se concentrent sur une variété de sujets, mais elles traitent principalement des valeurs et traditions autochtones. 

Depuis bien longtemps, j'ai été très bien accueilli au Salon du Livre à Paris. J'ai également fait de nombreuses présentations dans plusieurs de nos communautés francophones du Canada.

Beaucoup de mes livres sont en français. Certains sont pour les enfants, mais la plupart sont des livres culturels adaptés à tous les groupes d'âge.

Les Editions des Plaines (Winnipeg) est incroyable car mes éditrices font ce qu'elles font pour des raisons culturelles - notre langue / notre culture!

Pour me réserver pour parler à vos élèves, parents ou à vos éducateurs, contactez mon agent Chris Patrick.

Et jetez un œil sur mes livres en sachant que j'ai de nouveaux titres qui sortent tout le temps, deux au cours des six prochains mois.