How Reading Saved My Life

February is I Love to Read Month and I am very excited to be visiting my friends at Niji Mahkwa Elementary School next week to read for the whole elementary school.

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I love being able to celebrate reading, and as far back as I can remember, I have loved reading. As a result, libraries were my safe spaces to hide from the world growing up and school became a place where I could apply the knowledge I read about through writing. I wrote my first book at a very young age, it was called “Mr Bigface”. I was in Kindergarten.

My love for reading extended throughout the years, celebrating Schoolastic Book Clubs whenever available in the school, writing in online journals and blogs and eventually incorporating stories of how reading saved my life into my public speeches. I talk about sadness and confusion as a kid, and in my darkness, a teacher came forward, Ms Holmes, to share a book that made me feel like a hero and gave me reasons to wake up tomorrow. Those books in that book series made me feel like I could save the world. If I could have empathy for the animals and learn from my environments, be creative, work as a team, recognize others gifts, implement rotational leadership, laugh while working and be fearless – a bunch of kids could save the world. And if they can do it against those aliens that can hide inside of people’s heads and we can’t even see them; surely we can do it against the systems and institutions in real life.

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I know things aren’t that simple in real life but the hope that was created in me knowing that one of the kids in the Animorphs books was dealing with child welfare challenges like myself and so many other indigenous kids in the real world was tremendous. This wasn’t my first book series. I began to explore various types of adventure, biographies, science fiction, and any type of literature that would expand my system literacy. I knew I had to share this goodness with the rest of the community so we could all work as a team to address our real life challenges. Where once I felt bullied, lonely and lost – books and reading changed my perspective and made me feel like I could be a helper too. And if I can do it so can you. I am grateful to every adult who ever put a book in my hand, and want to encourage other community members to read with your relatives and neighbours. Open up the minds of kids in the community of the world that awaits them in books. The results for me were an increase in my vocabulary, an ability to do really well in my English classes and a now, as an adult and a professional public speaker, I credit my love of reading with helping me do what I do for a living. More than anything though, books showed me we can all be heroes.

Happy I Love to Read Month

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