Author Forchuk Skrypuch at Toronto’s St. Josaphat Catholic School

    Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch and Halyna Kostiuk with students

    Halyna Kostiuk for NP-UN.

    Not everyone is born a reader and for some people to find a place to start can be overwhelming. Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, however, doesn’t offer ready recipes, she simply writes the books one can’t put down. She successfully tackles complicated and often little known historical concepts by breaking them down to easily digestible, fascinating stories that capture people’s hearts and minds all over the world.

    Forchuk Skrypuch has been known to Canadian readers for two decades as a writer who sheds light onto bits of history that have been shoved under the carpet. In the USA, however, her books have only been published by Scholastic Inc., the world’s largest publisher of children’s books, since 2017.

    The renowned Canadian author came to St. Josaphat Catholic school (principal Leda Ostafichuk) in Toronto on March 20 and grades 7 and 8 students were thrilled. My students have been reading Forchuk Skrypuch’k books since September, focusing on her World War II Making Bombs For Hitler trilogy. They have also been fascinated with her newest book, Don’t Tell The Enemy. This novel will be available in the USA in December 2019 as Don’t Tell The Nazis. It is inspired by the true story of Iryna Korpan’s mother and grandmother, who hid three Jewish friends under their kitchen floor during the Holocaust. My students were overjoyed to chat with Marsha, to discuss her books and writing process. It was a unique opportunity to meet an author who writes page-turning fiction for young people on Ukrainian historical topics. They didn’t want the conversation to end, and finally said it was the best day in their lives.

    Marsha is a familiar speaker to students across Canada, but recently she has been touring in the U.S., and so far has visited schools in and around Chicago, Detroit and Louisville KY with Scholastic Book Fairs.It gives Ukrainian communities in the USA a great opportunity to invite this incredible author and discuss her books.

    Her novels are available in libraries and bookstores, both the bricks and mortar kind and online. They’re also available to students through Scholastic Book Fairs and Book Clubs.

    The exciting journey with Forchuk Skrypuch’s books has covered numerous aspects of the English-Ukrainian language curriculum. The students have been using House visual organizer, Concept map and Hierarchical map to improve reading comprehension. While applying a Sequential map, they looked at the events in a story not only from the chronological point of view, but also how these events in Ukrainian history are related to European ones. The students as well employed different strategies to help them with comprehension: visualizing, inferring, determining important ideas, fixing comprehension, synthesizing and using connections. This last strategy was particularly beneficial in making the connections not only text to self and text to text, but also in linking Ukraine to the world – clearly demonstrating Ukrainians as the active participants in important European historical events.

    Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch has been a fearless pioneer in literature for many years, bringing up subject matters people initially find uncomfortable and know little to nothing about, and presented these hard to comprehend ideas through beautiful arresting stories, enlightening and changing minds of millions. It’s impossible to overestimate the importance of this author’s books for Canadian literature, for many people and especially Ukrainians. Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch doesn’t invent stories, but undertakes a thorough exhaustive research as a true academic. Holding a degree in library studies, she knows how to find an information hidden in archives and not frequently visited places. She has clarified many common misconceptions in regards to Ukrainian history, especially during World War II. As a community, I think we need to pay more attention to her books.