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Children's Fiction Native Canadian

Nokum Is My Teacher

by (author) David Bouchard

illustrated by Allen Sapp

Red Deer Press
Initial publish date
Aug 2019
Native Canadian, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2019
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 8 to 12
  • Grade: 3 to 7



Nokum Is My Teacher is the poetic story of a young aboriginal boy, posing questions to his grandmother, his "Nokum", about the wider world beyond the familiarity of their home and community. Through a series of questions, Nokum guides her grandson towards an understanding of his need to fit into and learn more about this large world beyond the reserve. Nokum offers her grandson a vision of a world he can enter through imagination and reading, while retaining respect for the ways of his people. By the conclusion of the book, the young grandson has learned many new ideas from his grandmother and discovered his own wisdom in dealing with the changes in his life.

Nokum Is My Teacher is a delightfully packaged book and audio file, combining the written text in English and Cree with the mesmerizing voice of author/storyteller extraordinaire David Bouchard. It is illustrated by the hauntingly beautiful artworks of Allan Sapp, Cree elder, Governor General's Award-winner, and Officer of the Order of Canada. The singing and drumming are done by Alberta's Northern Cree, who have been nominated for a Grammy Award (2007) in the 'Native American music album' category.

For the audio files go to to hear the audio of the spoken words in English, with the wonderful music of Northern Cree,
go to to hear the audio of the spoken words in Cree, again with the wonderful music of Northern Cree.

The French/Cree version is available in hardcover with an enclosed CD as Nokum: Ma Voix et Mon Coeur.

This is part of a series of aboriginal books David Bouchard has developed with Red Deer Press.

About the authors

British Columbia's best-selling author and most sought-after public speaker has presented to hundreds of thousands of educators, parents and students the world over. This former teacher and principal of 28 years champions literacy. His message is spelled out in his best selling books The Gift of Reading and For the Love of Reading.
"The greatest gift we can give our children is the gift of reading and there is no magic in giving it. There is no toy or program that will do the job for us. It takes time, commitment and most of all, fire. We cannot hope to light a fire in the hearts of others without a fire burning in our own. Light and stoke yours, then spread the flame fast and furious. Let literacy be your legacy."
Bouchard outlines individual roles and responsibilities in ascertaining that all children are given the gift of reading. He inspires like none other and leaves his listeners with a concrete plan and the rejuvenation needed to face literacy issues head on.
Born and raised on the Canadian prairie, the author of over twenty five best selling books now lives in British Columbia with his wife Vicki and their combined family of seven.
David Bouchard's books have won several prestigious awards, among them: the Governor General's Award for The Song Within My Heart in 2004 and the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry award for Voices From the Wild in 1997. If You're not from the Prairie is listed on MacLean's list of the Top Twenty Children's books in the history of Canada.
You can access his web page at


David Bouchard's profile page

Allen Sapp is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a member of the Canadian Academy of Arts. A Cree elder, he was raised by his grandmother on the Red Pheasant reserve in Saskatchewan and now calls North Battleford home. The memory of this tender relationship has spawned in Sapp some of his finest and most sensitive works, bringing to his canvas a sense of affection and love. Visit Allen�s web site at

Allen Sapp's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"With beautiful, thickly brushed paintings by an award-winning Cree artist, this bilingual picture book breaks with the formula of the wise elder teaching the contemporary kid to respect the old ways. Here, a boy asks Nokum (Grandma) why he has to leave the reservation to go to school and learn to read. . . The art, including close-ups and panoramic scenes of Cree life through seasons and generations, shows the heartfelt bond between the boy and his beloved mentor as well as the richness of Cree life, past and present."

"David Bouchard is firmly established as one of Canada's finest storytellers, and he further enhances his reputation with this book. . .
Bouchard skillfully captures the sense of disillusionment and irrelevance that many children attach to the task of learning to read. . .
Allen Sapp's oil on canvas illustrations are richly textured and lend much to the lyrical text. Sapp is a Cree Elder, and his exterior winter scenes are especially powerful in capturing the harshness of the northern winter and in reflecting the hardiness required of a People who for centuries have survived in such challenging surroundings. . .
The textual pages are divided into two columns, with the text in one column presented in English and, in the other column, in the Cree language. Even for English-only readers such as me, the presence of the Cree text adds to the appeal, authenticity and educative potential of the book. . .
A bilingual English and Cree audio recording is enclosed. The Compact Disc contains a reading of the story in English, then Cree, to the accompaniment of the aboriginal drumming group, Northern Cree. . . Their participation in this collaboration caps off what represents the fruit of some of Canada's finest creative talent."
CM Magazine

"The universal themes of validating education and receiving guidance from elder family members will resonate with elementary school-age children. The authentic Cree voice, artwork, and music, provide a taste of the native culture in a context that unites the concerns of children across time and place. This book will be well-received for the value of its story as well its celebration of the identity of one of North America's First Nations."
Foreword Magazine

"Illustrated with Cree artist Allen Sapp's very fine paintings, which beautifully animate an old way of life. . . The dialogue between the grandson and his Nokum is an interestingly enigmatic one, in part because it is unclear whether the boy is summoning up the spirit of his departed Nokum. Does she exist in the flesh or is she a treasured memory? Nokum's responses to her grandson's questions are enigmatic as well; she offers not answers so much as more questions for him to consider."
The Globe and Mail

"David Bouchard's Nokum is My Teacher is a stunning picture book."
The Star Phoenix (Saskatoon)

"Classroom Connections: There is lots of opportunity to use this book in several curriculum areas. Certainly, the text can introduce young and reluctant readers to the importance of books and the messages that can be learned through reading; but also, a teacher might want to use the exquisite pictures to teach concepts of Indigenous culture throughout history. The pictures in the book contrast the traditional and modern lifestyles of the Cree. The CD includes music and text in English and Cree. This can add to the understanding of syntax and cadence in language. The drumming alone can be used to describe the roles that music and drumming play in culture. I can hardly wait to experiment with this book in my own classes as I expose my students to the rich heritage of Cree culture."
Canadian Teacher Magazine

Other titles by David Bouchard

Other titles by Allen Sapp