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Second Graders Can Have Powerful Ideas

Dav Pilkey inspires Durham District School Board students at UOIT for A Day with Dav

“I love telling stories, I just never thought that I would be able to do it.” Dav Pilkey, author of comic-themed books such as Captain Underpants and Dog Man, spent his day with a gym full of excited students on September 13.

Two thousand Durham District School Board (DDSB) students in Grades 2 to 6 filled the bleachers and the floor of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT)’s Recreation and Wellness Centre.

Pilkey promoted the release of his new book Dog Man: Lord of the Fleas, and spoke to students about how his passion for drawing and writing stories developed at an early age.

The inspiration for Pilkey’s stories come from his experiences at school. “When I was a kid I was very much like George and Harold [Captain Underpants]. They both have ADHD.” Along with having ADHD, Pilkey also has dyslexia, but that doesn’t stop him from connecting with kids all over the world through his hilarious and action-packed books.

Hallway stories

Captain Underpants is something I started drawing in the second grade when my teacher would kick me out in the hallway for misbehaving,” explains Pilkey. He adds that being sent out of the classroom was an everyday thing for him, and led him to feel isolated from his classmates. “I didn’t want them to think of me as the bad kid in the hallway.”

Pilkey’s hallway drawings ended up helping him become the ‘funny guy who made stories’ instead of the ‘bad kid in the hallway.’ And that was his message to students – How can I turn this ‘bad’ thing into something good?

The three P’s of success

Using personal anecdotes, he broke down three keys that help him change a bad situation into a good one: Positivity, Practice, and Persistence. For example, the character of Petey in the Dog Manseries always feels like he’s the bad guy, no matter how hard he tries to be good. The character of Lil’ Petey believes in him no matter what. Pilkey sees his second-grade self as Petey, and his mother as Lil’ Petey. He is inspired by her positivity, and through that, has gained his own persistence.

Pilkey adds that getting to meet the kids is his favourite part of being an author, “I love when kids come up and show me a comic that they made. I think that’s really cool.”

A Day with Dav was a collaborative event between the DDSB, Scholastic Canada, and Blue Heron Books.

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