03-31, Passing on My Literacy Love

My oldest son at 13 after a random stop at an ice cream shop after basketball, eagerly pulling out a book

I’ve often reflected on my life as a mom and lamented about what I didn’t do better. I wished I could have given more time to this, added more quality to that, helped them more, explained more thoroughly. Eventually, I grew weary of my own moaning and groaning. I reminded myself that we are not nearly perfect, though I don’t think striving for perfection is bad at all. I decided instead though, that I should celebrate the things I believe I’ve gotten right – even if they weren’t as many as I’d consider ideal.

When I scrolled through pictures of years past, I stumbled upon what felt like a beautiful pattern. I noticed that my oldest son, on a number of occasions, was often randomly caught deep into a book. It wasn’t scripted. He wasn’t posing. Sometimes, we were just out and about, and he happened to bring one along. In the picture above, he’d been injured playing basketball, but felt he should bring his book with him just in case. He just “had to know what was going to happen next.”

In another, we were out as a family getting pizza – and he felt that this was a great way to spend his time as we waited for our order to be ready. I’m elated to see a picture of him reading in the car. I’m excited to watch him engaged in a classroom novel. I am overjoyed to know that one of the books he read at my recommendation – we were reading it simultaneously. He insisted that I not “beat” him because he wanted to find out the ending before I did with no spoilers (smile).

When I think about how he started – as a kindergartner who told me he “hated” reading, and I think about where he is now, as a young man who still loves reading enough that he’ll take me up on the occasional, “Hey, I think you’d like this…” (Sigh…) I’m thankful and relieved.

Granted, it’s a bit different now that he’s become a sophomore in high school. I am in great competition with girls, his social life, and the ever beloved I-phone and X-box…but, when I last made a suggestion he said, “Mom, I can’t read it right now – because I have too much homework; but, I will read it with you this summer.”

I’ll take that.

Reading transformed my life as a child, and I’m forever grateful to my best teacher – my mom – for helping me to embrace it in a way that subsequently, fueled my life and love for writing. Of the many gifts that I’ve hoped to give to my children, literacy is among the greatest.

I didn’t know at the time that I would have the privilege of sharing my literacy love with refugee women and their children; but, when I think of the few special things that bring my heart the greatest joys, among them is knowing that my firstborn still finds bliss between the pages of a book – in a time where so many children have lost a love for reading for pleasure.

I am also thankful to the passionate educators and librarian who helped me along the way. I distinctly remember the roles of his kindergarten teacher, Rosie Reyes, his first grade teacher (and former principal and 40 year educator) Vicki Perry, third grade teacher, Patricia Vachon, fifth grade teacher, Dr. Georgia Johnson, and librarian, Cheryl Hensley, who helped him delve into fiction and non-fiction fare.

Between them, he participated in book competitions (Name That Book) for three years spanning the city, including one sponsored by the Houston Rockets (for which he read more than any other elementary student Houston ISD)! And he came in first place more than once with the school’s Bluebonnet Reading contest.

They helped me stoke and stir his love for literacy and language in a way that has made an indelible imprint on his life. I hope that I can return the favor for the children that I have the pleasure to work with – as well as the adults who are new to the English language that I work with side by side.

I extend sincerest thanks to every official and unofficial educator who has ever championed heartfelt passion for literacy love. You are an incomparable treasure.

#booksandbliss #stillmylittlereader #proudmom #happyteacher #boysdoread #literacylove #passiton #carlamichelle