Planting Seeds

It’s early December and here at Lehigh we find ourselves in finals week. I have final papers to write, PhD applications and job applications to submit, papers to grade, and college applications to revise. With so much on my to-do list I decided to take a break so I started searching for books I’d like to add to my thesis-reading list. It only took 45 minutes until I became “distracted” and thought about my eight-year-old nephew who dislikes reading & writing. Aiden is a bright and beautiful little boy who loves math but puts up a fight every time he’s asked to read. As a bookworm it breaks my heart! My boyfriend on the other hand says he understands. He advised me to give Aiden an incentive to read. Of course in my head I’m screaming, “reading is the incentive! Getting lost in your imagination and other people’s stories should motivate anyone to pick up a book!” But of course that’s not the case with everyone. So I thought to myself, what does Aiden love? Math, food, video games, toys, and money!

As I was digging around for Latinx literature I came across books in both Spanish AND English! The language element is extremely important for me since Aiden doesn’t have many opportunities to read in Spanish. He understands Spanish and can speak Spanish (sometimes) but he’s not as fluent as I would like him to be. Why is this so important for me? Because he’s from a Salvadoran family and our culture and history is extremely precious so I want him to understand where he comes from. He also spends a lot of time with his grandmother (my mami) who can only speak Spanish and I would love for them to spend time reading together. So when I came across two books written in both languages, I couldn’t resist!

I called Aiden and made a deal with him. For every book he reads I will pay him $10. As I was explaining this I heard his nervous laughter. I asked him what kind of books he enjoy12249654_10206861151979903_6720247465333971277_ned reading and he responds, “I don’t know. I like adventure books, like superheroes!” Okay, I can work with this. When he said “superheroes” I heard “revolutionaries” and I went with it. But I also wanted proof to make sure Aiden was reading so I asked for pictures! And then his uncle stepped in and sweetened the deal, “He should also write a summary so that way he’s reading and writing and that’s your proof,” Robert said. This additional  requirement annoyed Aiden but it was an excellent idea! Even with some pushback and more nervous laughter Aiden took the deal!

“See Aiden? I’m paying you to read so you can see that working hard in school does pay off,” I explained to him. My boyfriend congratulated me and gave me the idea to select books beyond his age group and reading level. Another great idea! So now as I continue my search for Salvadoran literature to add to my thesis reading list I will also be searching for gems to send to Aiden. Do you have any suggestions!? Leave a comment below!

I will be posting Aiden’s pictures and summaries on my blog so that other children (and parents, tias, padrinos etc.) looking for similar books can peek inside his eight-year-old mind.

So far our reading list consists of:

(Check back to see the list grow – chapter books coming soon!)

Somos como las nubes / We Are Like the Clouds by Jorge Argueta and Alfonso Ruano 

Joelito’s Big Decision: La Gran Decision de Joelito by Ann Berlak 

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