Daddy, read me a book
By: Dick Hodgetts
Aiden receives books each month from the Ferst Foundation. There is real excitement when the mailbox out in the real Buckhead contains books for this two year old pre-schooler. He knows that Mom or Dad is going to read him another story, probably that very night. Sending books is only the first step in the success of this program- the next critical step is for someone to read to the youngster. Fortunately for Aiden, his parents share in this duty.
Javier, his 10–year–old brother, has been through this routine. He is what Ferst Foundation calls an Alumni since he “graduated” when he turned five and started kindergarten. Today, Javier is making A’s on his report card, and he now goes to the Morgan County Library and picks up his summer reading from the lists prepared by his Elementary School faculty. Reading has become an integral part of his family life. Mom, Dad, Javier and now his baby brother (Aiden) all have been involved in the reading programs that Ferst Foundation supplies. And, just as the program managers hoped, Javier has moved into the stage of development where reading is part of who he is. The school system is convinced that this reading experience plays some role in his academic success as well.
How is everyone in this family involved?
Well Mom reads to the boys, and helps them find books to borrow at the library, or to purchase at the book store. Dad participates as well. His participation has evolved over the past 10 years. When Javier was a toddler, he too asked his Mom and Dad to read to him. Mom complied. Dad had a challenge. English was a second language for him. His formal schooling was entirely in Spanish.
But,Dad was determined to succeed in this role as he has in several other positions. All the Ferst Foundation books are printed in English, but about one in five titles contain both English and also a Spanish translation of the same story. Hey, he can read to his son in Spanish.
But Lupe’ (Dad) determines that if the story is in Spanish and he can read it, then he can learn the story in English by simply flipping the book. Dad teaches himself to read English by flipping through his toddlers books over repeatedly. They weren’t intended to be English lessons, but the Mother of Invention is necessity. Lupe’ finds a way to learn English, read to his son, and both Father and Son are participating in the Ferst Foundation in ways that the founder had not anticipated. And if you don’t feel this is an extraordinary accomplishment, find a book in both English and Spanish and teach yourself to read and speak Spanish.
Lupe’, his wife Pam, and the two boys are evolving. Cultures are meshing, kids are bi-lingual, reading is part of several lives, and success is enhanced because neighbors like you make contributions to the Ferst Foundation; and the recipients use these tools-sometimes in unexpected ways. It also helps that we have a great Library that encourages youngsters to stay busy reading all summer; and a school system that motivates kids to succeed.
Is every story this unique? Probably not. When one comes along that stirs the soul, it is worth sharing. When Pam and Lupe’ use the tools available to them in interesting ways, it reminds me that our neighbors are often amazing people.
Special thanks to Shauna Von Honstein, Ferst Foundation. Any errors are the responsibility of the author.