The Places You Shouldn’t Write

I am a literacy coach.  It is literally my job to promote reading and writing.  I love seeing the way Ale is growing as a young reader and writer, and I try to encourage her to “write.”  I rejoice in watching her fine motor skills develop as she, now purposefully, grips her pencils.  I bought crayons long before she had the strength to make them show up on paper.  She has had notebooks for years that we carry along for busy hands.  She has an art box from my dreams overflowing with colors, stickers, and scraps of paper for her to glue.

Unfortunately, in our family, it has become a common question: “Ale, where can you write with that?”  She always replies, “Only on paper!”  That’s because we’re discovering all the places that we shouldn’t write, and our list grew again today:

1). Walls.  Beware of the quiet child with markers.  Watch out for sneaky glances as three year old hands hide markers in the folds of her skirt while backing out the room.  And finally, if someone tells you to stay as she runs the opposite way, you should follow.

2). Tables.  Just because your paper is on the table doesn’t mean you should write on the table…

3). Couches. The couch has its own rule book.  Food and drinks aren’t allowed there.  Play Doh is also on the list.  Shoes aren’t welcome anymore either.  

4). Books.  This is hard to explain.  It IS paper.  There are pictures.  Some books are for writing.  Others aren’t.  Most aren’t.  So, back. Away. From. The. Book. With. Your. Markers! 

5). Babies.  Don’t do it.  Of all the places you’ve written, this may be the one I least expected.  You shouldn’t write on babies…

This is what I came home to this afternoon, with an excited three year old telling me she “painted” the baby.

World Read Aloud Day


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.”

Hard swallow.

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.



A Elf Rant


Can I just say that this whole Elf on the Shelf business is crazy? In case you’re living in a bubble, the latest craze is for parents to purchase these dolls that hang out and watch the house. They “manage Santa’s naughty and nice list.”

Of course these are magical dolls that fly to the North Pole every night. And upon returning they are found in a separate place (because when you are asleep they come to life…) My Facebook feed is overflowing with parents who make messes with chocolate, marshmallows, toys, etc. I don’t get it… If he is supposed to keep track of your behavior, why is he so bad?

Enough, people.

Santa pushes it, but at least his story has been around for a long time. This is clever marketing that now is extending to birthday elves too…

But, hey! At least they included a book with this one! Here’s to sneaking a little literacy into Christmas “traditions.”

Raising a Reader II


I’ve been so excited with my little pumpkin! She is growing up so fast! Friday she started crawling–and she is not content to sit still any longer! Victor said yesterday, “Now, the Bebita is just looking around for something to touch. She doesn’t want her toys–she wants shoes, or cords, or…”

One of the most exciting things about her crawling is that she chooses to be with us now. I will leave her playing in the living room, before I know it–she’s made her way to the kitchen or the bathroom. She grins up at me so proud of herself. Or sometimes she will be playing at my feet, and when I look down at her she reaches for me. Ahh… It makes this mama’s heart so very happy…

Now that she’s making choices on where she goes, she also is making choices on what she does there. So the teacher’s corner of my heart was happy when she crawled to her carpet, picked up a book, turned over on her back–and started “reading.” Because for her, that’s what it is: reading!

Sweet little Squish, you become more fun every single day.