Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Journal offers Thanksgiving treats for Albuquerque families

Copyright © 2021

Parents and young children will love opening the on Thanksgiving Day.

A bilingual book, Charles Reads / Carlos Lee, written in English and Spanish, is added to give families a little more to do together this holiday weekend.

The short story can be added to a children’s library and is aimed at children up to second grade. It offers children the opportunity to read or parents to read to their children, which educators believe is one of the best ways to promote literacy among children.

First graders at Dolores Gonzales Elementary School followed in Charles Reads / Carlos Lee when the Public Education Department and local McDonald’s restaurant franchises began their literacy partnership in October. (ROBERTO E. ROSALES / JOURNAL)

New Mexico’s literacy statistics are grim: the state ranks 49th; three out of four fourth graders are not good at reading; Children who have no reading skills up to fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of secondary school; nationwide, 85% of youths tried in juvenile justice are functionally poorly educated.

Cameron Bourg, an Albuquerque teacher, tutor, and author of children’s books wrote “Charles Reads”. The book was selected to be distributed to children through McDonald’s restaurants in New Mexico in a separate partnership with the State Department of Education in connection with the PED Year of Literacy Campaign.

The journal has reprinted more than 40,000 copies as part of the Literacy Project, an ongoing collaboration between the journal, KOAT-TV and KKOB News Radio to promote literacy. The colorful book will be included in all copies of the Thursday Journal, including those delivered to our subscribers’ doorsteps and those sold at kiosks and in stores.

The story revolves around a young boy who loves to play with a cape and gloves and dress up like a superhero and resist all attempts by his family to sit down and read with a book. This resistance dissolves when he comes across a book about superheroes:

“Then Charles finds that he reads the villains who fall on their knees with ease. Heroes are drawn on every page of a book for children his age! Charles reads for days. “

“I want children to experience the joy of reading and be passionate about history,” said Bourg. “You need that tactile sensation from a book and not the electronic digital experience. It’s something you can hold and turn the page, and the story is in chronological order, uses simple words, and has some rhymes in it. “

Bourg, 42, is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he taught Spanish at Louisiana State University. In late 2005 he moved to Albuquerque. “After the hurricanes, I decided to live in a place with 300 days of sunshine a year and without major natural disasters,” he said.

During class and tutoring, he quickly realized that children in New Mexico, like children in Louisiana, “had a literacy deficit,” he said. In particular, “children who mainly speak Spanish have often been labeled as having special needs education, which is problematic because they may not be getting the appropriate education”.

He said he hoped his bilingual version of Charles Reads / Carlos Lee would find wider audiences.

Bourg took time out during the pandemic and started writing children’s books. He’s published four and has two more in the works.

“I am excited about the opportunity to connect more with New Mexico children, parents, and teachers,” he said.

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