Monday, April 13, 2009


This weekend, we hosted two visiting couples from Puerto Rico, though one of the women is originally from Colombia. Which is to say, my son -- oh my, the frisson of that "my son"! (grin) -- could chatter along without struggling with language.

As they left the house, they bore away some copies of my poetry books ... which is how it came about that one of the visitors mentioned to Michael how great it was to be taking away some of his mother's poetry. Michael apparently replied, "Yeah, she writes all these poetry books...."

It was his tone that made me privately smile. His taking-it-all-for-granted tone that of course I'd be writing "all these poetry books" like it was the most common thing to do. I love that. (One of the disadvantages of not yet being fluent in each other's language is that my husband and I miss a lot of the nuance of his thoughts -- )

Relatedly, in Bogota we gave Michael the entire series of Narnia in Spanish. He has a charge to read a minimum of three pages a day -- he usually reads four to ten pages instead. When we returned to the U.S., one of the new items in his bedroom is the entire series of Harry Potter in English, as well as other books.

In other words, without really saying anything, we act under the assumption that of course he will be a reader.

There is ready modeling, of course, from the signs of many books in the house. And, today, at the grocery store, he was flipping through a display of chapbooks promoting SpongeBob. I asked him if he wanted one and he nodded. I bought it, noting, "You can have it because it's a book and books are important" (that much, my Spanish allows). Never mind that his interest was due to Sponge Bob (I never knew of this character -- don't even know if it's one word or two) since the text was English...a book is important.

I'm wingin' it of course, thinking/wondering if this is the way to grow a reader. You see, I've never forgotten the "library" at his orphanage. Here's a photo:

First, the orphanage is one of the better ones in Colombia and the fact that it has a library is not to be taken for granted. But to do you see all the boxes towards the background of the photo? These are boxes of donated books. They're still in the boxes, unpacked. There's no hurry, you see, to unpack them when there's never enough resources and attention to give to children to encourage them to read many books. Well, in an orphanage, there's rarely enough attention given to each child.

So yes, Michael. Finally, you must understand: reading is also as important as food and shelter.