I sat thinking about how to evolve my manuscript when I overheard a lady complaining about her son. The twelve year old boy was having difficulty in school. His grades were poor. His behavior was out of control. And his refusal to read was causing stress at home. So I approached her.
“Hi!,” I said, extending my hand to shake hers. “I overheard your dilemma and would like to offer some suggestions.”
I shared with her some strategies to implement at home that will be beneficial to her young son. She shook her head and smile. Then she said, “He’s not going to read. I’ve tried everything.”
Upon hearing her remark I thought, “I am sure you have not tried everything.” But not to sound cynical, I asked her if she would allow me to sit with the boy for an afternoon. I shared with her how I taught reading for years to students in grades K-12. I shared with her I have both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Education. And I shared with her, it would give her some free time to herself, which I think sealed the deal. 😉
The next week, I met the little boy with a tower of books. (All of them I loved for one reason or another. My ultimate goal is to share all of Mildred Taylor’s work, but for now I have to start off slow.)
I passed the little boy numerous time and had no inkling of who he was. His mother was dark in complexion and he was tall, white-looking with blue eyes, which I later learned his father was of the Caucasian race. She introduced us and immediately his eyes glanced at the tower of books and bellowed, “I’m not reading kiddie books.”
I smiled at him and immediately gestured for him to sit at the computer and google President Obama reading Dianna Aston’s, OVER THE MOON.
He was hesitant at first, but he obliged. After he watched the clip, he said, “I’m not reading no kiddie book.” In which I replied, “Point well taken! Then I’ll read it.”
I pulled out one of my favorite books, MRS. KATZ AND TUSH, by Patricia Polacco. I didn’t start at the first page. Instead, I immediately opened to the middle of the book and began reading. After a few pages, I noticed he sat upright trying to get a glimpse of the picture on the pages, which I refused to show him. Then he got up, walked towards me trying to get a glimpse of the picture on the pages. I closed the book when he sat beside me.
“Why did you close it?”
I replied “‘Cause I don’t want you reading any kiddie books.”
He looked at me and said, “That’s not a kiddie book.”
“That’s what you call it,” I said, reminding him of the conversation he controlled when we first met.
Now we were opened to have a conversation about reading. Let me tell you this, I interviewed his mother to find out about him, what he liked (cats), what he missed most (his grandmother who lived in another country), and why the sudden change in behavior (his father died). Then I searched for books that will allow him to have a connection with his life and reading.
We had a conversation about “kiddie books” in which we both agree that there is no such things per se. Every book is a kiddie book. We read books to take us to a happy place. A place we all remember from the feeling of peace, love, contentment, and serenity. These feelings we all experience when we were children. We all want to live in a world where happiness and imagination blend to create a vision of splendor.
I shared with him, that without reading, you are destined not to experience prosperous life, but a miserable one. Education can take you to the top of the world and back in 24 hours. That is what books offer us. The opportunity to explore in the comfort of our own home and school.
In conclusion, some children love reading and do not need a reason to read. While others need to be inspired, we have to find a way to show them the benefits of reading. So if you want books that will inspire, challenge, and motivate children to read, pick up any of Patricia Polacco books or the millions of great writers gracing the shelves of library, book stores, or even the dollar stores. You will not be disappointed 😀
By the way, that little boy just borrowed my BONES series and ALVIN HO series.
A soon to be famous person (ME) said, “We cannot produce productive citizens if they don’t know how to read.”