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Friday, September 12, 2014

To This Day, written by Shane Koyczan. Annick Press, 2014. $19.95 ages 10 and up

"to this day
kids are still being called names
the classics were
hey stupid
hey spaz
seems like each school
has an arsenal of names
getting updated every year
and if a kid breaks in a school
and no one around chooses to hear
do they make a sound?"

If you are  a teacher and you spend your days with kids who are 10 and up....this should be your first class read every day in September. Then, maybe once a month, you could read it again! It is too easy to say 'kids can be cruel' and move on from there. Easy if you aren't the bullied.

The animated video for Shane Koyczan's anti-bullying poem was released last year in February and has racked up more than 12 million viewers since that day. Bullying is, and has been, a heartbreaking issue for so many.

I have had the privilege of seeing Shane Koyczan on stage three times. His performances are moving, humorous and often heartbreaking. His own experiences of being bullied are at the heart of this poem
about the lasting, lingering effect it has; and is hopeful that strength, support and an innate sense of self can help the victim move beyond the experience. He adds a preface, an afterword and a list of resources for kids whose life has been forever changed by being bullied, bullying or being a bystander.

"I didn't have many friends when I was in school, and I was often picked on and made fun of. I had to learn how to be my own friend. The way I did that was through writing. I could create my own world, and make myself the hero of the story. What I wrote as a kid was mostly just fragments - short sentences about the way I felt. As I got older I started to put those thoughts and ideas into poems. Today I am amazed to see how many people in the world feel the same way I do. I'm astonished by how connected we are through the things we've endured."

Annick has published his remarkable poem in this impressive book filled with images created by thirty international artists. The images are diverse and have tremendous impact for the writing. It is a collective plea to all who read it to put an end to bullying. I have read it numerous times, always with tears and with hope that it is the start we need to make a huge change. I am an optimist, and I truly believe in the power of words.

Shane looks to all of us to take responsibility:

 “Remember that the world will never hear you if you choose to say nothing.”

If you would like to see Shane perform his spoken-word poem, please check this site:

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