I have always loved to read ever since I first got a hold of the comics, in color, in the newspaper on Sunday mornings. I could not wait for my mother to read them to me, so I forced myself to read.
My brother Arch was the same way. He is seven years younger and he couldn’t wait. My sister, Maggie, 14 years younger, had trouble reading. She had both of us read to her, but when she was in the fourth grade, they found out she was dyslexic. I was just about to start teaching when we found out.
It took a number of years for smart educators to learn that dyslexic did not mean “dumb.” It meant students learn in different ways. Now we have it knocked; people can learn by reading, hearing or doing. Kids with learning challenges are often smarter, because they compensate for what they don’t have. It is sort of like being blind, but able to know who is there by the smell of perfume.
Our senses are our best bet for learning. And we should continue to read to learn. Then we make new stories to survive old age, sorry, I mean “advancing years.”
My brother was part of the U.S. Army for 20 years, then went back to college and got a teaching degree. When I quit teaching 12 years ago, he started. He taught English and history just like I did. Arch had the same approach to teaching I did; he offered kids in his classes free books that were about the era in history he was teaching.
When he retired last spring, he gave all his books away to kids who were lined up to get them. To inspire reading—now that’s teaching. However, he came by my house last summer and dumped 20 books written by Robert Vin Gulick.
“You need to read these, they will tell you a lot about China.”
“But I am busy being retired!”
“I’ll pick them up in a month and we can talk about them.”
One, Arch was missing discussions with students; two, he was using me for a sounding board, three, he just assigned me homework?! I am the older sister, he can’t give me assignments.
Then I started reading the Judge Dee Mystery series. I couldn’t put them down. My husband Bill complained I was reading at the breakfast table. They were fascinating. Mysteries, yes, but so well written, when I had finished the last one, I grieved at missing the characters I had come to know.
In the Netherlands, the Vin Gulick name is associated with one of the greatest authors of the 20th century. The University of Chicago Press still publishes them. And they are an easy read.
Last time I explained that New Mexico was not missing. This week, I am here to say for those interested, we have some pretty fine authors right here from New Mexico for those interested. (And for those with trouble, we have movies about the books.)
Of course, Tony Hillerman is first on the list. I had him as a professor at UNM and then taught his kids at Anunciation School on Menaul and Wyoming. His Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee novels are part of each and every New Mexican. His daughter, Ann has taken up the torch and lit our way to more great mysteries; DNA does not lie and she has the talent.
For us on the east side of the mountains, Albert Noyer is our not-so-secret treasure. He has six novels about ancient Rome and its territories that will make you take the bed sheets off the bed, make togas, and wear them to eat supper from the couch. Getorius and Arcadis mysteries are fun to read, but there are more. Alberix the Celt, book one and two continue the story in ancient Rome. (Men in short skirts! What’s not to love?) Back to New Mexico with his Father Jake mysteries, The Ghosts of Glorieta and One for the Money, Two for the Sluice, featuring a priest from Michigan comes to New Mexico. Do you think he might find trouble? Find out, read ‘em.
Closer to home, we have former newspaper editor, Rory McClannahan with Time in the World. If you liked his columns, you’ll like his book. And finally, without reservation, my good friend, Kathy Schuit, another former newspaper editor. Not only did she feed our tummies as founder of Katrinah’s East Mountain Grill, she has a feast for the eyes of children and adults with Where Does This Line Go: Penndittle E. Turtle Wants to Know. The story is darling, and all children will understand it. The artwork is adorable, (I like the ants and the armadillos best!)
I am still a teacher, and now you readers have a homework assignment: Read, read, read! Go to the world you have never experienced, meet the people of imagination. Tag, you’re it. (My brother started it!) Take your time.
Roaring Mouse, looking for my reading glasses, out.
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at [email protected]