Children’s book author and speaker David Bouchard, inspired parents and teachers with his presentation at a workshop held at the Lakecity Secondary Carson Campus commons Aug. 26.
The free presentation was the result of a partnership between the Cariboo Chilcotin Metis Association and a team of teachers from School District 27.
The teachers, Tammi Varney, Lori Kelly, Tanis Stewart, Tracy Walton and Frances Bisaro began planning summer institutes in Williams Lake for teachers to attend and receive professional development training.
Last year they held a very successful conference attended by over 100 educators.
Bouchard, a former teacher and school principal has written more than 50 books in English and in French.
Many of them combine poetry, prose and visual arts, and explore topics such as the environment, history and the traditions and cultures of Canada’s Aboriginal communities.
In April 2009, Bouchard was named a Member of the Order of Canada “for his contributions as an author of children’s books and an advocate who has championed the cause of reading and writing, and who has shared his pride as a member of the Métis community through his stories.”
With funding from Success by 6 in Williams Lake, the team of teachers and the Metis Association have purchased copies of Bouchard’s books to give to parents and families at the event.
“It is our goal to have more families come out of this evening committed and better prepared to read at home daily to and with their child,” they said. “Ideally, this information will also transfer to families with preschool children so that this begins well before children come to school.”
Francis Bisaro said that the books are beautiful and have universal appeal.
“He writes with lovely, almost rhythmic language and has linked with some great illustrators,” Bisaro explained.
“He epitomizes multiculturalism,” Tanis Stewart added. “He’s from a varied background like some of us are, and like some of the children we teach are – that’s what I like about him.”
Bouchard told the Tribune that you can’t start too early with books and babies.
“We started reading Harry Potter to our daughter, Victoria when she was two years old – reading to your kids develops your skill and confidence as parents,” he added.
“Given one single choice, I’d have everyone in Williams Lake in the same room to learn what you can expect from teachers and from parents. They both have a responsibility and you can call them on it,” he said. “We need them both.”
He said that every single parent, teacher and administrator should know what it takes to be a reader, stating that reading is as natural as talking and breathing.
A teacher and administrator for 30 years, Bouchard said he believes that kids reading is the key to success in and out of school. “We should teach kids based on things like their physical abilities and their artistic accomplishments, but we teach reading and they have to adapt, or fail,” he explained. “We teach kids who can read. From coast to coast education is focused on reading. I wish that were different, but it isn’t.
“Barack Obama is black, and if you’d said 20 years ago that the U.S. would have a black president I’d have said you were crazy. The Berlin wall is gone, and 50 years ago, who would have believed it would happen? Never say never,” he continued. “It may just be possible that our education system will become sensitive enough so that every child can succeed.”
He explained that when children who already have vulnerabilities start school, not reading or being ‘reading-ready’ only compounds their problems and makes them feel ‘less than.’
“Maya Angelou said that ‘People who know better, do better,’ and I apply that to teachers, parents and administrators – we all love our kids. And our children aren’t lazy – they want the best for themselves,” he said.
“We all want that. ‘Give me the goods and I’ll do better.’ That’s one thing I want people to take away from this presentation in Williams Lake. We want to send you home with a little fire and a lot of knowledge.”