Friday, August 12, 2005

Books for the Boys

I finally got around to doing something I have intended to do all summer. I took Santiago and his little brother Jerry (children of Morena, the El Salvadorean woman who cleans my office) to the public library in Oxon Hill, MD. They both needed something special to do since they have a new baby sister who is occupying their parents’ time these days and the alternative today was sitting indoors with grandma watching cartoons on TV.

When we got to the library, I told them they could each check out 10 books. Santiago is a non-reading 11-year-old, so he gravitated toward books like the “Arthur” series that have lots of pictures and just a few words. Jerry just found books that had interesting looking covers. I threw in “Stuart Little”, “Charlotte’s Web”, and a book of math puzzles. We ended up with 26 books, all charged out to my card since they do not yet have a library card. That’s next week’s project. I sent home an application form for each of them (in Spanish). Their mom will need to come in and show an ID for them to get library cards. They are so excited!

Then we went to McDonalds for lunch. Santiago suggested one (of several choices), where there is an indoor play area that Jerry especially likes. He knew exactly what to ask for for Jerry – a hamburger in a bun with NOTHING on it. He suggested that his grandmother might like one of the fruit salads. We had taken books into the restaurant and I can guarantee you that we were the only people in that McDonalds reading library books! Jerry explored every inch of the indoor gym area and never seemed to wind down. Santiago kept a watchful eye on him.

I was so impressed with both boys’ behavior. They did exactly as I asked at all times. Santiago was so attentive to his little brother. At one point he told him to lower his voice in the library. I was surprised that he knew that rule. He made sure Jerry’s seat belt was always buckled. He happily accompanied him to the bathroom in the library. He is so thrilled that he is going to the same school as Jerry this fall. He vowed that if anyone bothered his little brother, he would beat the s–t out of him. Jerry absolutely idolizes his big brother.

Santiago was thinking ahead to our next outing. He suggested that we go to the library again, that we go bowling, and that I might come with them to the beach. I really should have started this sooner, instead of just one week before school starts.

I’m already starting to worry about Santiago in his new school. This is the child that needs so much special attention if he is ever going to learn how to read. But I see a spark of interest and I just have a hard time believing that he can’t learn under the right circumstances. If I was only retired, I would devote a lot of time to working with this child. I may figure out how to do that anyway.

Meanwhile, I hope they keep track of all 26 library books, so that I don’t end up with a big bill from Oxon Hill Library. But most of all, I hope they read them or at least look at all the pictures.

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