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Reader’s Reflect: Will he learn to love books, just like I did?

May 11, 2010

“Readers Reflect,” is a weekly post by a guest blogger reflecting on a formative book, character, or reading experience that has been particularly meaningful in their life as a reader. To submit your own “Readers Reflect” essay, please contact us at

This week we have the honor of welcoming a parent of a child with special needs to our guest blog series. Lee wrote yesterday about heroes, tonight we welcome a SuperMom:

Growing up, I wasn’t just a bookworm; I was a book monster. I had a voracious appetite for reading. Every week, I’d take out the maximum number of books from the local library (ten), and waddle home with them. Once, in sixth grade, I played sick just so I could finish reading Gone With The Wind. Librarians doted on me. Harriet The Spy, Sheila The Great and Nancy Drew were some of my closest acquaintances.

I saved a lot of my books—the Chronicles of Narnia set, The Great Brain series—so I could pass them on to my kids. Then my firstborn, Max, had a stroke at birth; it resulted in brain damage and cerebral palsy. Doctors didn’t know whether he could walk or talk. Mental retardation was a real possibility.

Determined to do everything we could for him, my husband and I bought him educational toys up the wazoo. And books—oh, the books. Max had a better-stocked shelf than the local bookstore. At night, I’d hit Amazon and scan lists for good books. You name it, Max had it: Board books, bath-time books, touch-and-feel books. Books about words and numbers, classics such as Where The Wild Things Are, books about cars and trucks (he was obsessed with anything on wheels).

During his seven years of life, Max has amazed us all. He walks. He has words. He’s bright, and is just now starting to spell. And yet, listening to books is not yet his thing. Sometimes, books about trucks, monsters or big creatures engage him, like How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? But inevitably, he’d much rather push a toy truck around his room as I read to his little sister, who begs me to read five or six books at night.

It pains me that my son doesn’t love reading as I did when I was a kid. It worries me that he doesn’t yet have the attention span for books. I yearn for him to enjoy the pleasures of getting lost in a book. I yearn for books to enrich his world and imagination as much as they did for mine. I yearn for books to help his brain heal.

helping children with special needs

Mr. Max

And so I keep trying, and hoping that my love for books will someday cast a spell on him.

SuperMom, Ellen is a writer, editor, blogger and mother of two. Check out her journey at Love That Max


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