Charlotte's Journey Home

Just a Regular Kid, Sort Of


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Charlotte Reads: Resurrecting a Blog Feature


Some time around when Charlotte was born, I picked up a copy of Esme Codell’s book How to Get Your Child to Love Reading: For Ravenous and Reluctant Readers Alike thinking I would use it as a resource. You see, I was very worried my kiddo wouldn’t love books as much as I do. And, like Esme, I believe that reading is integral to every kind of succes a child might have in life–educational, social, personal, spiritual, you name it.

I proceeded to devour Jim Trelease’s classic The Read-Aloud Handbook and Jennie Nash’s moving memoir Raising a Reader: A Mother’s Tale of Desperation and Delight. They eloquently write about why it is important to read to your children; what lessons we have to learn from Oprah, Harry Potter, and the Internet (Trelease); and the anguish of having a child who doesn’t click early with books (Nash). I gobbled up the lessons, prepared to sweat it out if Charlotte was a late reader, to be patient if she didn’t read at grade level until age 8 or so.

I needn’t have worried. On her second birthday, Charlotte picked up the sippy cup, looked at it and said “B,” pointing to the letter b on the Gerber cup. She quickly learned her alphabet (listen to her read it here) and by the middle of pre-school was reading 3-letter words. By the middle of kindergarden, she was reading ahead of grade level in English and her teachers surprised me with an account of her reading 3- to 5- letter words in French. I didn’t blog about it much because I didn’t want to sound like a braggart. We were, however, contiunally amazed and constantly asking her teachers how to keep her challenged.

Looking back, I see that my blog notes that she mostly only sat still to read. I started a new feature called “Charlotte Reads” and posted a few videos. Here’s one from November 2007. I wrote often about her favorite books. Again from November, 2007, #4 on the list of things I loved about age 2:

4. Love of books. She could read all day long. Today’s favorites
are Charlotte Doyle’s TheBouncing, Dancing, Galloping ABCs; K. C. Olson’s Construction Countdown; and Jon J Muth’s Stone
Soup
.

And, I posted about some of our favorite characters like Iggy Peck, Architect (follow this link to hear Charlotte read Andrea Beaty’s now-classic book) and Skippyjon Jones.

I still know those books by heart because I read them all dozens of time. Famously, we read Iggy Peck, Architect every night for more than eight months.

Why the trip down memory lane? Because tonight Charlotte read aloud to me, a chapter of My Father’s Dragon, a children’s classic by Ruth Stiles Gannett that I’ve never read. Her homework was to read a chapter. I asked if she’d like to read it aloud since that is what she does in her enrichment class. She jumped at the chance. I was enthralled by her expression, her fluency, and her confidence as she sounded out hard words.

I have read to Charlotte every day since I was by her side at Children’s Memorial Hospital. I may have sounded crazy reading The New York Times and Fortune magazine to my infant, but read I did. Watching her learn to read was amazing. Seeing her grow into a joy of reading that led to her lying on the couch yesterday to read Ramona the Brave for an hour is awe-inspiring. And, the first time she sat on the beach and read last summer made me hopeful for quiet, restful beach vacations!

Charlotte and I (and you, dear reader) are so fortunate to be literate. To be able to read these words. Join us on March 7 as we celebrate World Read Aloud Day, bringing attention to global literacy challenges that leave 793 million functionally illiterate.

I’ll be blogging here, and at Culture Bean, from now until then about read aloud adventures I’ve shared with Charlotte, my mother, and others. Feel free to chime in with your own stories–about a book that was meaningful to you, a favorite read aloud you heard as a child or read to your own child, or sound off about literacy and/or illiteracy.

And to think, I was selfishly claiming those 20 minutes each night to get a free cuddle and revisit my favorite books! How delightful that so much more grew out of it.


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10 Things Having a Baby with a CHD Has Taught Me

I’ve been busy thinking about blogging, and not too busy blogging. Well, I’ve been getting ready to launch a new, not-Charlotte-centered blog. This blog will continue, of course (my brother might give me grief if not!), but I’ve got some other things to say.

For today, I’d like to share with you another blog, that of comedian Tommy Riles. His website, Life of Dad, began the day his first daughter was born and he and his wife found out that she had a CHD. Like Charlotte’s Journey Home, Life of Dad began as a forum for updating his family and friends about Babs’s struggle and recovery. It has grown into a premiere social networking community for dads, publishing articles by 30 writing fathers who each bring a different perspective to the “Dad Cave.” Tommy has for many years been the warm-up comedian for the Ellen DeGeneres Show and early in the life of Life of Dad, he and his wife appeared on Ellen to raised awareness for our CHD kids. They are truly champions and he’s really funny.

I know of Tommy because he has partnered with Francie and Brian Paul to raise money for Saving Tiny Hearts Society, a not-for-profit dedicated to increasing funds for research into the whys and treatments of CHD.

By having a child with a congenital heart defect, I’ve learned a lot. Not only about CHD, recovery, insurance, parenting, and striving for normal. I’ve learned that parents of CHD kids (and other complex kids) are extraordinary in their own way. Francie and Brian turned their despair into a fight–for Joshua’s life (he’s nearly 7 and quite a bruiser!) and the lives of the rest of our kids. Bab’s CHD gave Tommy the impetus to communicate, use his platform and connections to raise awareness, and create a stable of “Daddy Bloggers.” They are my heroes.

And, in this month of Heart Health Awareness, I hope you’ll read the 10 Things Tom Riles has learned by having a child with a CHD. The original post is here.

With Tommy’s permission, I’m posting the first three things as a bit of a teaser:

1. Congenital heart defects are the #1 birth defect worldwide. When my wife was 18 weeks pregnant with her, we found out that my daughter, Babs, had a heart defect. I knew nothing about CHDs at the time, but now I know that 1 of 100 babies has a CHD, and awareness is a necessity.
2. My daughter is the strongest person that I know. Babs survived open-heart surgery at three days old. She’s tough, she’s funny, and she likes to sing. She is one strong fighting Irish girl.
3. I’m stronger having known my daughter. Once I realized the strength that my daughter has, I had no choice to become stronger. Now I do pushups, sit-ups, and jumping jacks every day.

Read on at Life of Dad!

Tommy’s post feels like a bit of a meme to me, so look for my ten things soon!

p.s. I’m happy to post in support of Ellen DeGeneres and her show. I like what she stands for. And, I’ll shop JCP anytime!