My heart is breaking. Seriously. I take so much for granted–like this wonderful world of literacy! Reading has been an escape for me since I was a little girl. Writing became my therapy a couple years ago when I felt like the world was crumbling around me.
And now? Literacy is my future! It’s what my job is based on, and I’ve already signed a contract as a literacy coach for the next two years. You could say that I can support my family because I learned to read. That’s the truth.
But still, my heart is breaking.
My custodian just asked me sheepishly, “Miss, what does this say in English. I don’t understand.” He was holding a button that I had made proclaiming March 5th World Read Aloud Day. I didn’t think anything of it, and I explained in broken Spanish the idea behind World Read Aloud Day. It’s a day where you read with a loud voice (the actual translation). Suddenly, a look of near panic crosses his face. “Us too?” he asked? I explained that no, we wouldn’t have everyone reading, but that some schools do celebrate like that. “But, it’s because I can’t read. I had to quit school when I was eleven,” he continued, “when my father died.”
I quickly assured him that I understood how that could happen. My husband too worked his whole childhood and missed out on a lot of school. I can help, I explained. It will be hard. But I know I can help him learn to read.
Wow. I think back to the notes that I’ve written, the cards that we’ve signed, and the text that is literally dripping from my classroom walls. Poems decorate my door, banners fly in the hallway with each writing celebration, and this sweet man who takes care of us everyday just told me his secret.
I know that it is a secret. That expression on his face? I know that expression. I see it daily on the faces of the boys and girls who struggle with reading–Who know that they are struggling.
There are a lot of things I can’t do in this world. But teach someone to read? That’s something I can do. And it all starts with reading aloud. Reading with a loud voice. Be loud. Be proud. Read someone a book tomorrow–even if that someone is just yourself.