Canada Reads·Canadian

Children of My Heart

Gabrielle Roy's novel won the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction in 1957.

Gabrielle Roy, translated by Alan Brown

Set in the prairies in the 1930s, and rich with the author's own memories of her time there as a young woman, this is a powerful story of an impressionable and passionate young teacher and the pupils, from impoverished immigrant families, whose lives she touches. Children of My Heart bears unforgettable testimony to the healing power love exerts on the wounds of loneliness and poverty. (From McClelland & Stewart)

Children of My Heart was a contender in Canada Reads 2007, when it was championed by Denise Bombardier. The book won the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction in 1957.

From the book

When I think back, as I often do these days, to my years as a young teacher in a city school for boys, the first picture that comes, emotion-charged as ever, is that of the opening morning. I had the class of the very smallest. It was their first step into an unknown world. Added to the fear they all felt was the dismay, in the case of some of my little immigrants, at being spoken to in a language that to them was foreign.

Very early that morning I was assailed by the sound of a child's screams amplified by high ceilings and resonant walls. I went over to my classroom door. From the other end of the corridor a heavily built woman was sailing toward me like a battleship, dragging by the hand a small, howling boy. Tiny as he was beside her, he managed at times to dig in his heels and, pulling with all his might, to slow their advance for a second. Then she would take a firmer grip, lift him off the floor and carry him for a further gain. And she had to laugh at how hard he was to manoeuvre despite the odds. They made it to the classroom door where I was waiting and trying to keep a straight face.

From Children of My Heart by Gabrielle Roy ©1977. Published by McClelland & Stewart.