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Friday, September 26th, 2003 article, "French books shine in classroom", by Sebreana Domingue of "The Lafayette Daily Advertiser", a news publication serving Lafayette, Louisiana.French books shine in classroomJohn Rowland/The Lafayette Daily Advertiser
Nicole Boudreaux, left, and Shirley Porter talk about Porter's book, You are Sunshine, which has been translated into French by Boudreaux and Zachary Richard. The book will be given to first- and second-graders in the Lafayette Parish School System's French Immersion program.
LAFAYETTE Paul Breaux Middle School had a bit of sunshine delivered to its door Thursday.
Boxes of a book brimming with color and rich in French language were dropped off at the school to present to first- and second-graders who take part in French immersion programs around the parish and state.
"Tu es un rayon de Soleil" by Shirley Porter is a book promoting self-esteem and value for all children, said Eddie Richard, who helped to spearhead the donation of 2,500 copies of the book to students in French immersion in 29 schools in Louisiana.
"We made an application with Entergy and got a $1,000 grant to purchase books for the immersion program," Richard said.
As the president of Action Cadienne and in conjunction with his work with the Confederation of Acadian Families, Richard approached The Sunshine Foundation Inc. based in Baton Rouge for assistance.
The foundation produces "You are Sunshine" and distributes it to kindergarten children around the state.
"We felt it was a moral book, for lack of a better word, and it was aligned with everything we wanted to say," Richard said. "We got the idea to do it in French."
"The intent of the book with 60,000 English copies distributed in the state to kindergarten students is simple," Porter said.
"The message is you are sunshine," Porter said. "Even though we might not say it as much as we should, we hope they really know every child is worthwhile and it was done to encourage parents to support them."
Lafayette Parish has five elementary schools and two middle schools serving 830 French immersion students who will benefit from the donation of the books, said Nicole Boudreaux, an instructional services teacher with the school system.
"This is wonderful for us and I love that it has adult messages in English on each page," Boudreaux said. "Parents can see what it is all about, too."
The book was translated by Boudreaux and Richard's son, Louisiana musician Zachery Richard.
The book's reading level is perfect for first- and second-graders, and books about self-esteem and character education are not always available for younger kids, Boudreaux said.
Books written in Canada, where most of the French immersion program books are produced, often talk about harsh winters and seasonal changes that students in Louisiana cannot relate to, Boudreaux said.
"This book being done locally helps because it is truly representative of this area," she said. "It even has more of a mix, racially with the illustrations, that we don't find in other books."
Copies of the book will be put in school libraries and older students at Paul Breaux Middle School will get to read the French stories to students at Vermilion Elementary, Boudreaux said.
James Bourque, vice president of the Confederation of Acadian Families, said supporting French immersion programs in Lafayette and around the state is important to keeping the French language alive in Acadiana.
"I grew up speaking French first as a language," Bourque said. "Without French immersion, it is going to die out and we won't have any hope to keep it alive."