Tuesday, February 6, 2018


I remember her in second grade.
Long straight brown hair.
Bangs cut straight across the forehead.
A quiet presence in the after school snacks.
I would smile and say hello to her every day.
She grinned but never said anything.
Until February,
when she finally said, in broken English,
"I want that."
She wanted chocolate milk, not white, or strawberry,
but didn't have the English to ask for it.
And for the next three months we practiced,
"I want chocolate milk please,"
every single day.

And now she's in seventh grade.
A bilingual social butterfly.
A mover and shaker on the playground,
a handful in reading class.
The first week, she told me she hates reading,
"You can't make me like it, Miss. It's boring."
And she wiggled,
and giggled,
and tapped,
and smacked her gum,
was just generally annoying,
and sometimes more than a little disrespectful.

We fought.
I talked to her.
Talked to her mom.
Made her sit still in reading class.
Handed her picture books and graphic novels.
Day after day after day.

She still reminded me that reading was boring,
at least once or twice  a week.
But she stayed in one place,
didn't poke or tap or wiggle
or bug the people around her
So I was a little ok.

This month's book order came.
We have a philanthropy, Book Trust,
that allows all of the kids to order a $7 book, for free.
There were no graphic novels that she hadn't read,
so she asked me to help her pick a book.
Not too long.
Topics I thought she might find interesting.
Foster care. Teen dads.
The book came today.
She told me she didn't think she could read it.
I told her that I read it last summer and loved it.
And that maybe she could just try it.

She did.

And read for thirty minutes straight.
Several times she stopped to talk to me about the book.
Once she read a line and asked if I thought it was a simile or metaphor.
But mostly she read.
When our time was up,
she didn't remind me that reading was boring.
Like she regularly does.
Instead, she said, "Miss, I like that book."
And I just smiled.
I still have three more months to grow this reader.


Stacey said...

What a transformation that's already happened, Carol! I cannot even imagine what the next three months will bring. You will have to keep us updated.

Kyle said...

Thanks for the reminder! This is why we do what we do!

Ramona said...

Growing readers . . . you rock this, Carol! I love the slow progression in this reader. Helpful to know that sometimes we can overcome that resistance.

elsie said...

This brought tears to my eyes. What a moment! What a book! I loved Orbiting Jupiter, even though I still want to cry every time I think of that book. You are awesome!

Nanc said...

Oh Carol....loved this so....especially these lines:
"You can't make me like it, Miss. It's boring."
And she wiggled,
and giggled,
and tapped,
and smacked her gum,
I'm glad for you and proud that you kept on with her....all it takes is one! xo