I don’t know how I missed this article with Matty Ohlund and his kids the first time. It’s totally adorable. I don’t really want kids, and even my uterus stood up at attention. Matty Ohlund can convince you to do anything.
Vancouver Canucks star Mattias Ohlund is raising two readers
Karen Gram, Vancouver Sun.
His mom, Linda, flips through them. There’s Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Harry Potter, Nim’s Island, Captain Underpants and, surprisingly, Frankenstein.
“But where is that one you really enjoyed?” says Linda.
“Which one?” he asks.
His mom whispers to him and a huge smile takes shape on his face.
“Oh yeah,” he shouts, running from the room.
Eight years old and the elder child of Canucks defenceman Mattias Ohlund, Viktor loves to read. With chapter books such as Harry Potter and Nim’s Island, he has often seen the movies first and then read the book. He pulled Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein from a school library shelf. Even though it’s a difficult read, he says he loves it.
But when he comes running back from his bedroom, it’s not a classic in Viktor’s hand. He slaps down a book of an entirely different strain.
It’s called Strange But True, The Day My Butt Went Psycho.
Nothing like a little potty humour to keep a boy reading.
Meanwhile Viktor’s seven-year-old sister, Hannah, sidles up to the table with her stack of favourites – picture books about puppies, dragonflies and an imaginary creature called Zlocksh who comes to life.
Hannah loves books too, and practises her reading every day.
“We used to read for them daily,” says her dad. “But now it’s the opposite. They read for us.”
Ohlund is being interviewed in his home rather than the more familiar territory of the hockey arena for Raise-a-Reader, a Canwest initiative to raise awareness, funds and resources for family literacy programs.
He says every child should have the right to learn to read. He was lucky, coming from Sweden, a country that has always valued education.
He remembers his own parents reading to him and pushing him to read on his own. It didn’t come easily, he says, but it was worth the effort.
“It’s a big part of life. It’s something we take for granted, but it is also something that, whether you are a young child or grown up, it’s something you do a lot of.
“So much of what we know comes from reading,” Ohlund adds. “As a grownup you read the newspaper and you read about what is going on in the world. So much knowledge you have comes from reading.”
He may read the news now, plus books on sport psychology and maybe, occasionally, escape-lit while on a plane, but as a child he always liked the books that ended well. The upbeat, happy stories.
“I didn’t want to read about the bad things happening in the world,” he says.
So he read all the books by Astrid Lindgren, the Swedish author who created the beloved character Pippi Longstocking, the pigtailed orphan girl with extraordinary strength and a penchant for exciting adventures.
“Our kids go back home in the summer and we have books from when we were small that we make them read,” he says, adding that while Viktor is fluent in Swedish, he reads better in English.
Today is Raise-a-Reader Day and Ohlund will be hawking papers this morning along with other celebrities in the hope that readers will step up to improve literacy in Canada.
More than three million Canadians have problems dealing with printed materials such as maps or prescriptions. And research shows that poor reading skills are linked to low-paying jobs and criminal activity.
Since its inception in 2002, Raise-a-Reader has raised more than $10 million through initiatives around the country. Every dollar donated on Raise-a-Reader Day stays in the community where it was given, to support local literacy programs.
These programs go a long way toward improving literacy rates in Canada. But Ohlund has other advice too.
“Number 1,” he says, “find something your kids are interested in. It doesn’t matter what it is, it has to be interesting for them. You can’t force them to read an adult book. It needs to be, in the beginning, very easy going.”
As Ohlund and his kids snuggle in on the sofa, Viktor shows off his skills reading from a picture book called How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon?
“Does he flip all his covers with tooth and with tail? Does he dump out his juice and get sick in a pail?”
Then Ohlund reads aloud from a Swedish book called Den stora boken om Barna Hedenhos. Translated, it means The Big Book About the Hedenhos Children.
More adventures by Swedish children. More love of reading for everyone.
Mattias Ohlund with Viktor and Hannah.
Mark van Manen/Vancouver Sun
The guys are saying all the right things after their embarassing loss to the Capitals, so I’m cautiously optimistic for the game against the Wings.
Things I would like to see on Thursday
They come out with tons of energy.
The defence relaxing and just playing smart, instead of running around like headless chickens.
Matty Ohlund looks like a rock star again.
All of the forwards skating well and going to the net.
The power play stops making me scream.
They get more than 10 shots on net. Preferably more than 20, but baby steps, right?
Things I don’t want to see
Willie Mitchell plays the point on the power play. I adore Willie Mitchell. His defensive shut down play makes me drool. He’s maybe the nicest person alive. But he should never be on the point on the power play.
The Canucks dumping the puck in, and then the Wings skate the puck back into the Canucks zone seconds later.
Lui lets in a soft goal.
AV juggles the lines after 30 seconds. I can see wanting to mix up the second line if they’re still not putting it together, but if the first line is playing well, don’t move Big Bear away from the wonder twins just to change the second line. Then you have two lines that aren’t meshing.
As long as they don’t play like they did against the Capitals, I’ll even be OK with a strongly played loss, and I won’t feel the need to endanger my liver just yet.