Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Single, Critically Important Step to Loving Reading

My eldest younger brother, Carlos, speaks brilliant English.  When he was ~5 years old, his father, Pablo, took a teaching job in Texas, and the family spent the better part of a year there, at which time, Carlos learned the language.  

One of the main drivers for finding an au pair when they returned to Spain was to continue exposing the boys to English.
(Little did Pablo and Vanesa know that my English is quite poor, and consists mostly of catchphrases: “Don’t do me,” “Come onnnnn,” “Booty, booty,” but I digress.)

Most of our -- the three brothers -- time together is one hilarious adventure after another.  Ok, ok. We go to the park, rollerblade, ride bikes, talk about dinosaurs and superpowers, have foot races, and more often than we should, punch each other.  (Dani and Carlos -- not me.)  Maybe it is not so grandiose as to be described as “adventures,” but we party.  

Each evening, Carlos and I settle down to do some reading in English, and up until two weeks ago, it was a real drag for him.  

I hated it because I love reading.  I mean, I looooooove reading.  It is just ahead of cooking something delicious, and just behind making music and shooting tequila.  I have a forever growing list of books that I cannot read fast enough.

Why do I love reading?  Because I know how to do it!


“What?  You are a 28-year old, grown ass man… you better know how to read.”

That's fair.   

However, while extracting meaning from letters placed together into words and sentences is far more complex, so many people slip up on the far simpler, but equally important task, of reading material that will captivate them. 


Let’s continue.

For the last ~5 months, reading in English each night has been a chore for Carlos - an activity to avoid through endless hand washing and “can I get some water” requests.  But it was not until two weeks ago that I realized that it was actually my fault -- completely my fault!  I was not sharing the real gems of children’s fiction with him, and I was not paying enough attention to his interests.   

Two weeks ago, I showed Carlos “The Giving Tree.”  He loved it, and could not help but try and guess what the tree would bestow upon the boy next.  After finishing a series of other poems by Shel Silverstein - “The Loser,” “My Beard,” “Scale” -- Carlos confirmed that he liked reading. 

I was jaaaaaaaacked.

This last week, Dani joined the ranks while we dove into the story of “Jumanji.”  When the snake arrived in the middle of the game, Dani literally shivered in my arms.  It was awesome.

When’s the last time you read the “Cat in the Hat?”  It’s a fuckin’, hilaaaaarious party.  What about “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs,” or one of Ms Frizzle's adventures on “The Magic School Bus?”

We are now making our way through the Roald Dahl classic, “the Big Friendly Giant.”

As I said, I love to read.  It is petty of me, but it bothers me when people tell me they do not like to read.  And it is because I do not believe it -- it is only a matter of content.

If you are in the important business of introducing literature to others, avoid my mistake and complete the "Single, Critically Important Step to Loving Reading." 

Single, Critically Important Step
Seek out fantastic content within the interests of your reader.

Having spent countless days discussing super powers with Carlos, how could I have waited this long to show him “The Five Chinese Brothers?”  Carlos and I continue to debate which super power is the coolest -- he thinks it is the brother who cannot be burned, but he is wrong.  It is the brother who cannot be beheaded. 

Additionally, I should note that the “Single, Critically Important Step to Loving Reading” is universal. With a quick internet search you can find hundreds of pieces that align with your own interests, complete with genuine, qualified reviews from readers just like you.

Stories are one of the oldest, and most brilliant forms created to share ideas -- to educate, to entertain, or otherwise.  Being lost in a book that you cannot put down is one of the great treasures of the human experience. 

Final Note:
I do not remember who gave this piece of advice to me, but it is completely worthwhile.  

Do not feel obligated to finish reading content that is not pulling you (or your child) 
forward with every single word on the page.

There is too much brilliant content out there that can leave you spellbound.  You should spend your time entranced in those pages.

$.50 Philosophy

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