L iterate Littles’ conception began before we ever planned its existence. When Raquel’s son was just an infant, she would send the rest of the family videos and pictures of him reading. Despite being a rambunctious little guy who wanted to be outside ALL the time, he had an amazing attention span and extraordinary patience to sit through several books. I was so impressed with his ability to focus and comprehend content, as well as his obvious love for books at such a young age. Though we come from a family of avid readers, I was convinced that the explanation for Kai’s affinity for literature that only grew with age was that my sister had introduced books to him from infancy. When my son, Elias, was born ten months after Kai, I wanted to ensure that he had the same love of literature as his cousin. Yet, young children’s literature was not as accessible where I live in Quito, Ecuador , especially English books. So, I knew I would have to order a large quantity of books at one time and wait for my family to bring them down when they visited from the States. The problem was, where to start? The more I searched online, the more lost I became! There were just SO many options out there, and I had a limited amount of suitcase space, not to mention the money to buy them. Children’s books can be pricey, especially when you are buying many at one time! I soon began to realize it mattered a great deal which books I would buy. Which ones were age-appropriate? Which ones would be appealing to an infant? Effective for building vocabulary? Stimulating on a variety of levels? Of course I called my sister for guidance. I knew she had a critical and discriminating eye for children’s books, and I could rely on her personal experience with Kai. And of course Elias and I were not disappointed with her suggestions.
It wasn’t long before I began suggesting books and sharing reading tips with my other mom friends who had infants. I also became increasingly concerned and alarmed when I realized how many parents did not read to their infants or toddlers. Perhaps this is more common in Latin America where literacy is not as encouraged as much as in the States, but either way, it became more apparent to me that the literacy challenges I had had with my former students were due to the parents’ lack of education on how to implement early child literacy. Where there is a need, a passion is born, and that’s when the seeds that had been planted for Literate Littles began to grow.
As our boys have grown, so has their love of literature (and yes, I still call Raquel for book suggestions!). It has been so exciting and fulfilling to see the fruits of exposing them to literature at such young ages. It is something that we long to see in every child, but we know that it begins with educating and guiding parents, caretakers, and educators first.