Chiqui just read Sing Down the Moon, by Scott O’Dell. O’Dell was part of the reason I studied anthropology and my first and longest-running favorite author since the second grade, when Mrs. Chaparro read Island of the Blue Dolphin to my class. I don’t have a way to describe the joy I feel in sharing the books I’ve loved with my kids, especially these books that are more complex, for older children.
It’s Chiqui’s half-birthday at school today, and that means I get to visit his class and read a section of a book to them. I ask if I should read a fragment of Sing Down the Moon, and Chiqui quickly says, “No, it’s too sad.” And it is, deeply sad, because it’s about the Navajo’s Trail of Tears, a story of forced removal and painful loss.
But there’s more here. Chiqui looks sheepishly at me and says, “The kids will tease me for picking a book about Indians.” He says that last word with an ironic sneer.
And my heart twists. I don’t want that to be Chiqui’s reality. I don’t want that to be anyone’s reality. My entire being heaves a sigh. That joy of sharing with Chiqui? It turns from floating feathers to bricks.
And then I come back to my Self. Chiqui gets it. He values the book, the lessons, the humanity. We still share that. He still loves that book.
And I remember this: Just because he doesn’t want me to read the book to his class doesn’t mean that, one on one, any of them would not get it. It doesn’t mean they won’t hear of it from him, it doesn’t mean they won’t receive a gift from it, even if it does come indirectly.
Often, that is the way the greatest gifts come!