One of my homework assignments for my Intermediate Literacy class is to share about a book that made an impact on my life. My first go to book idea was To Kill A Mockingbird. I am sure that this book is a common choice for many since it is such a powerful story. My second thought went to a book from my childhood, What Do I Do?
I have been a reader for as long as I can remember. I don't know when I started reading but I can't remember a time when I didn't read. My mom is a big reader and books, like breathing air, have always been a core necessity to my existence. What Do I Do? is a simple book about a young girl, probably a kindergartener. It is a bilingual book so the story is told both in English and in Spanish. I am pretty sure that this was the first bilingual book I owned. The story goes through a day in Consuelo's life. The story isn't compelling, there is no great plot twist or moral to be taught. The reason I loved the book as a kid was because the main character, Consuelo, looked like me. She was brown like me, she had dark hair like me, her family spoke Spanish, like me, and she did things just like I did. I saw myself in Consuelo. Even though I read and enjoyed everything I could get my hands on, this book was extra special. Here, in this book, was a girl that I could identify with. Sure, there were some differences. Consuelo lived in a big city and her grandparents lived with her. I understood that though because I understood that as a normal occurrence in my Latino culture. It just didn't happen to be the case in my family. Somewhere, as the years went by, and amongst our many moves, I lost this book.
Jumping forward to my first year teaching in public school, the same year that Sabi was born, I took my students to the library for our weekly visit to hear a story and then check out books. As the librarian read a story to the kids, I scanned the shelves that I was sitting by and happened to see this same book, What Do I Do?, on the shelves. I had the biggest physical and emotional response to seeing the book. I was flooded with excitement and memories of reading the book as a kid. I remember feeling so warm and happy inside and I wanted to call my mom RIGHT AWAY to tell her about the book. I checked out the book and took it home to share with my mom and Sabi. I then spent the next two weeks trying to track the book down online because I had to have a copy of my own. I found one and I now have a special place for it on my bookshelf.
Why is this book so important? It is important because Consuelo was a character that I could identify with. When I was growing up, there weren't many stories I could see myself or my family in. Owning and reading this book reminded me that my family was important and just as special as any other family. As an educator, I try to expose all kinds of literature to my students for the same reason. Today, we are so lucky to have a vast array of multi-cultural books available to kids as well as books that address the subject of different types of families and lifestyles.
How about you? What book made an impact on your life?