“Time for lights out, honey,” I whispered to my oldest daughter, now ten years-old. I could see that the pale light emanating from her flashlight was now luminescing the room beyond her bedtime.
“Aww, Papa…but I only have four chapters to go.” Her words were more a question than a statement. A veiled request for more reading time. Although for the sake of her rest and cognitive regeneration I should have insisted she extinguish the light and go to sleep…I didn’t. I relented.
So the light stayed on.
Exiting the room, I found myself thinking about something author and keynote speaker Stephanie Harvey said last week at the Connecticut Reading Association Conference: “All readers deserve a rich reading life.” I would venture to say refusing to turn out the light so that the last few chapters of Louisiana’s Way Home may be read by flashlight is perhaps the mark of a rich reading life; a mark for which I, of course, feel great pride. But I worry about all the kids for whom the joy of a rich reading life has not yet been their reality. The kids for whom that light is not yet lit. And I worry about what Maryanne Wolf has written about in her book, Reader Come Home (2018) in regards to readers growing up in this digital age. In discussing the dearth of research conducted around the formation of the reading brain “while immersed in a digitally dominated medium,” she writes, “There will be profound differences in how we read and how we think depending on which processes dominate the formation of the young child’s reading circuit” (p. 8).
But I suppose this worry gives meaning to the mission of a Literacy Specialist. How can we ignite the light inside all children? I wonder. I travel to work each day with this question before me, knowing it is not an easy one to answer. But nonetheless a worthy mission to pursue.
I’ll also travel today knowing the light for my own child still shines brightly. And that’s something.