Joy Kogawa story in Vancouver Sun's “Raise a Reader” supplement
Rebecca Wigod wrote a short story about Joy Kogawa in Thursday's
Septemeber 29th, Vancouve Sun, page A23c. with a small picture.
On the road of learning with Joy Kogawa
by Rebecca Wigod
venerable Canadian writer – so venerable that in Vancouver, Nov. 6 is
Joy Kogawa Day.
She's a Member of the Order of Canad, but she's not
able helping children in southeast Vancouver with their reading.
In fact, she's only too happy to help.
On a sunny summer afternnon, Kogawa went to the
Fraserview branch of the Vancouver public library and shared her
children's book Naomi's Road, with the young folk in its Readalong
Many of them had South or East Asian backgrounds.
A diminuitive gifure in a long blue denim jumper,
she gathered the kids around her and asked: “Sixty years ago in August,
a terrible , terrible thing happend. I was 10 years old.
Does anybody know what happened?”
“A war?” asked one of the children.
Happy to recieve such an answer from children too
young to know anything of the Secod World War, she nodded
vigorously. Then she told them something of her own history.
At one point, she produced a figurine and showed it
to the Readalong group. It depicted Ninomiya Kinjiro, a great
19th-century Japanese landowner who began life in a poor peasant family.
He is seen as a symbol of hard work, and perseverence.
“His special road was the road of learning. He
taught himself to read because he was too poor to go to school and he
beacme the greatest teacher in all of Japan. When I was young, my
parents said, 'Be like Ninomiya Kinjiro.'”
Children in the Readalong program visit the library
twice a week during the summer for stories and help with their
reading. Kogawa made the task palatable by handing out origami
paper and teaching them songs.
Her classic novel, Obasan, is the centrepiece of the library's One Book One Vancouver program this year.