March 06


The Power of Storytelling by Baptiste Paul

As a child access to books was a challenge. I walked more than 12 miles round trip to the library for books to read. At a young age, I fell in love with words, more importantly the power of words by listening to oral story telling.


I take some credit for my reading but most of the credit goes to my mother. Beyond the confines of my parents’ house, very few people knew she was illiterate. I had no idea she could not read or write. I always believed that she was too busy taking care of everything else and that she was exhausted to read me a book. Whether it was by candle light or kerosene lamps she rocked back and forth in here chair overseeing that my school work was done.


Although my parents struggled to provide basic school supplies, I grew up with the belief that only through education that one can change their status in society.


Besides playing soccer/futbol and cricket reading was my favorite thing to do and my reading grades reflected that. I excelled at it. I read the same books over and over again. At school, my teachers took us outside where we sat under a mango tree and read stories. I remember always closing my eyes and going on adventures. My favorite story was The Three Little Pigs.


As I got older, it was not “cool” to read and most of my friends hated it. I wanted to be “cool” like my friends and I stopped reading to hang out with them. At that point, I challenged everything, especially the importance of reading and writing. Although, I knew the importance of education, the success stories were almost nonexistent. If this was my future, why try…


Kids like me weren’t meant to succeed… and my environment remained me of that every day. Creole, my beloved Creole was the playground language and not the classroom, it was highly discouraged at “all” cost.


I equate my experience with reading as having an unexplained tic inside my head. The harder I pushed the stronger the pull — eventually my love for reading won. That love for stories and living life deliberately and capturing those moments laid the foundation for my writing.


Baptiste Paul is a man of many talents—from woodworking to gardening to entertaining hordes of children for hours on end. Born and raised in the West Indies (St. Lucia), Baptiste is a native Creole/Patois speaker and enjoys roasting his own coffee and chocolate as well as eating anything he can cook on a grill. Baptiste holds degrees in environmental studies and political science from Bucknell University and currently resides with his family near a wildlife sanctuary in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Field is his first picture book for NorthSouth Books.