Harry Potter Meets Hockey Star


The National Post has this heartwarming story about the similarities between Harry Potter and Tie Domi. \"Tie Domi has stood up against the toughest thugs in the National Hockey League, but the courage of left hooks and pulled sweaters and even haymakers is nothing compared to the courage Domi once showed a few years ago when he decided to do something worthwhile for Canadian children. He read out loud.\"
\"A few years ago, the Maple Leafs decided to do something for literacy. Working with the renowned Frontier College, the Leafs offered to promote reading among young Canadians by reading selections from mystery hockey books, the Screech Owl series, that had been created specifically to appeal to eight to 13-year-olds, mostly boys, who had previously shown little or no interest in reading. A tape was produced of various Leafs reading chapters -- but not giving away the ending -- and the tape was packaged with one of the books in the series, The Night They Stole the Stanley Cup, and sold across the country. The Leafs offered their time free and the publisher, McClelland & Stewart, and the author, me, agreed to wave royalties, with all profits going into Frontier College\'s literacy projects.\"

\"The players did the readings on an entirely voluntary basis. They were given three- to five-minute sections to read. Players such as Doug Gilmour and Mike Gartner, both no longer with the Leafs, flew through their readings. Sweden\'s Mats Sundin, reading in his second language, had no trouble.\"

\"Tie Domi did not find it so easy. It is not that he cannot read, but that he sometimes runs into difficulties, as many do. The volunteers producing the tape were patient, and after several new starts, re-takes, helpful prods and a little discreet splicing, the section was finished and smooth. It had, however, taken many times longer than any of the other players.\"BR>

\"What is exceptional about this is not the amount of time it took, but the fact that Domi chose to do it at all. He is well-known for his volunteer work with the likes of Big Brothers and Variety Village, but this was a moment when it would have been much easier for him not to raise a hand to help. And once he realized what was involved, he could have pleaded nerves or missing reading glasses. But he did not; instead, he bravely and determinedly pushed through with his commitment simply because he thinks it important that kids read books -- even kids who, just like him many years back, would probably rather do anything but.\"

\"From time to time that tape is played at schools for Grade 4, 5 and 6 students. They are transfixed by the idea that tough guy Tie Domi would take the time to read for them. Once they hear the story of what it took for him to do this, they never see him again in the same light. Nor should anyone.\"

\"Harry Potter deserves the same credit, if on a far-larger scale. This single series, on its own, has transformed reading among the toughest age group there exists to reach. Soon there will be 5.3-million copies of Harry Potter books about, and when one considers how many might be shared between adult readers and young readers, between enlightened teachers and classes, the mind boggles at what this might mean for the future of an activity that was supposed to die out with the coming of radio, silent films, talkies, television, video games, the Internet ...\"

\"There is a prescient moment 44 pages into Harry Potter and the Philosopher\'s Stone when Hagrid, the giant, shouts, \"It\'s an outrage! A scandal! Harry Potter not knowin\' his own story when every kid in the world knows his name!\" Today, it seems everyone, from kids to grandparents, does know his name -- and this before the movie, even before Burger King starts selling the action figures.\"

\"All because of books.\"

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