Askî and Friends eBooks

Using storytelling to close the gap in Aboriginal children's education.
2012, UX Designer

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The indigenous educational gap problem

The educational gap between indigenous and non-indigenous people is a severe issue in Canada. In 2011, the postsecondary education graduation rate of First Nations youth was only 35.3 per cent. In comparison, the graduation rate for non-Indigenous students was 78 per cent in the same period. To close this gap and to improve the situation of First Nation and Métis children, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education launched, in 2010, The Help Me Tell My Story assessment program.

The Help Me Tell My Story program to promote and measures language learning for pre-kindergarten and Kindergarten students.

Schools care about spoken language because its development is the source from which literacy and mathematics skills flow. Children with less developed oral language skills struggle to share their thoughts, acquire new understandings, and develop reading and writing skills.

How might we support the home and school working together to increase children's ability to speak and listen?

Askî's world, the four digital storybooks

Four digital storybooks were developed as part of the Help Me Tell My Story early childhood oral language assessment program. The books focus on Askî, his three friends Nipi, Kon and Tate and their lives around the pond. Each character has a storybook.

The stories introduce Turtle Island and Mother Earth—two central concepts in the First Nations' worldview. The stories are used in the classroom and in the home to help improve early childhood language skills and are available in four languages: Cree, Dene, Michif and English.

The interaction students have with Askî and friends helps the student become comfortable when taking the assessment. On the screen, they see the characters they have come to know and love.

Design solution

The storybooks are designed for three- to five-year-olds. Inside them, each storybook brings:

  • Large illustrations
  • Four stories about life at the pond
  • Read along option for each page, as well as for individual keywords
  • Read along option in four languages: Cree, Dene, Michif and English
  • First Nations and Métis content and ideas


Since the Help Me Tell My Story program was launched, the storybooks have been widely used, serving more than 1,500 children every year.

The success of the Help Me Tell My Story assessment program motivated the Government of Saskatchewan to expand and launch the Help Me Talk About Math program. This new program is designed for Grade 1 students. It features Askî the turtle and his friends and helps students practise using math skills such as estimating, solving problems and communicating about math.

"We have some really good anecdotes about families coming to school, feeling really good about being asked questions themselves about their kids' oral language development."
Greg Miller, Assistant Deputy Minister at Saskatchewan Ministry of Education