“I like seeing the movie first and then reading the book. There are way more details that weren’t in the movie. They really dig deep. To me, I was blown away.” — Antoine Roussel on how he became enamoured with reading
Antoine Roussel wants his three preschoolers to be surrounded by books and the sounds of a parent reading to them.
“They really love it when we read to them,” said the Vancouver Canucks forward, on the phone from Chicoutimi, Que., where he is enjoying the off-season with his wife, Alexandra, and Theodore, four, Raphaelle, two-and-a-half, and baby Leonard, two months.
Roussel supports The Vancouver Sun’s Raise-a-Reader literacy campaign, which launched today and supports literacy programs across the province, because “the ability to read encourages you to think and you become a better citizen, more educated and curious.”
Roussel, who grew up in France, remembers his parents trying to instil a love of reading in him but “I had too much energy and it (reading) wasn’t really grabbing my interest.”
His parents both worked full-time and “were go, go, go. They didn’t have the time or energy to read to us. But I have vivid memories of being on bunk beds with my sister listening to audio books.”
Roussel’s mom would leave the audio books for them when he was five or six. “It was Hansel and Gretl.”
And his dad had a collection of graphic novels, which his sister enjoyed, but Roussel didn’t like those or the books schools chose for home reading.
“I guess I was too picky,” he said.
His schooling was of course in French and students were required to study English and a third language, either Spanish or German. Roussel chose German.
“But I didn’t read any English books,” he said. “English was from another planet.”
As an adult, his interest in books was piqued by watching movies based on novels like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.
“When I first saw Dan Brown’s movie, everyone was telling me the book was amazing, so I read it,” said Roussel. “I like seeing the movie first and then reading the book. There are way more details that weren’t in the movie. They really dig deep. To me, I was blown away.”
Roussel also enjoys reading autobiographies and biographies, including Walter Isaacson’s biography of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
“It makes you think about what those people went through and how they overcame difficulties,” said Roussel.
The children aren’t allowed on devices but the family watches movies together or sometimes a children’s show and of course Canucks games, if it’s before their bedtime.
Theodore is old enough to choose his own books and “it’s always dinosaurs for him.”
In their bilingual household, “we have a bunch of hockey books,” including one about the Montreal Canadiens’ Jacques Plante, the first goalie to wear a mask in the NHL.
“Even for us (adults), it’s kind of cool to read,” Roussel said.
He also enjoys French author Delphine de Vigan and right now is reading The Baltimore Boys, by Swiss novelist Joel Dicker.
How to donate
Since its launch in 1997, Raise-a-Reader has provided more than $19 million to promote literacy in B.C.
You can make a donation any time. Here’s how:
• Online at raiseareader.com
• By phone, at 604.681.4199
• By cheque, payable to Vancouver Sun Raise-a-Reader:
1125 Howe St., #980
Vancouver, B.C. V6Z 2K8
Literacy is a tool everyone needs
The literacy skills of almost half of British Columbians aged 16 to 65 may make it difficult for them to understand newspapers, following instruction manuals, reading health information, filling out a tax return, reading a rental agreement or using a library catalogue, according to Decoda Literacy Solutions, B.C.’s provincial literacy organization.
And about half of the province’s population of the same age may have difficulty calculating interest on a car loan, using information on a graph or determining medicine dosage, according to Decoda, which provides resources, training, funds and support for community-based literacy programs and initiatives in 400-plus B.C. communities.
Some 16 per cent of British Columbians (or 700,000) were at a Level 1 literacy or below in 2012, according to an international survey (the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies) that 27,000 Canadians participated in.
Level 1 literacy means struggling with filling out a form at work, navigating a website, finding information in a list sent home from preschool, using information on a food label or comparison shopping.
It says improved literacy at home can help Canadians enjoy better health, manage their finances, understand their rights and responsibilities and legal proceedings and pass on their literacy skills to their children.
At work, it can also improve employment prospects, increase earnings, decrease work-related stress by being more efficient and accurate at work, and increasing their likelihood of participating in adult education and job-related training.
And in the community, it can increase community participation and volunteering, political involvement and increase the likelihood of inclusion in society.