August 25, 2022 – Thursday
On Tuesday we arrived in Belfast, Maine. I sent the kids off to explore the town while I had a meeting (about possibly buying a 3-screen movie theater to start a center for the arts – with a focus on environmental issues – including a film festival!) In his “walkabout” Charlie found a neat little bookstore (Bella Books) and when I was done with my meeting he asked me to come explore it with him.
We went inside and he asked me a bunch of questions… Which books are about Magic? Not sorcerer magic but other kinds of magic? Could he buy a book? Which books are part of a series? How does he know if a book is a good book? I responded by telling him to explore the books and if he has questions to ask the person at the cashier for advice and help finding a book. I gave him my credit card and permission to buy a book and I went outside to sit with his brother (in the bookstore’s lovely outdoor cafe area – where Avi was eating lunch.)
Charlie came out with a book he had chosen and purchased on his own. This was Tuesday afternoon – around 4:00 p.m. He started reading the book. He wouldn’t put it down. He read it in the car, in the hotel, at the beach, while eating dinner. The next day (yesterday, Wednesday) he kept reading it – and again, wouldn’t put it down! He read the whole book! He finished it Wednesday afternoon… in one single day.
This was the first ever chapter book that he has read. FIRST EVER. [And the first book of any kind that he has read cover-to-cover nonstop!] This is the first ever chapter book that he has picked out and purchased on his own too. He normally “reads” books on tape but this was his choice to move forward with reading a paper book (vs. something Digital)- and a book with more than 200 pages no less! I am so proud of this kiddo.
Here’s a little video from yesterday in which Charlie proudly expresses that he finished reading his first ever book!
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Let them take their time. When kiddos have disabilities (from Lead poisoning or whatever other incident or impact) you cannot know what their timeline is for neurological development – you also cannot push it forward or force it in any way. I have done my part (what I could, without pushing) constantly offering Charlie books over the past 14 years. I have let him choose his own books. I buy him whatever books he asks for (audio books, paperback books, comic books, everything!) – to encourage reading. We play Scrabble and Boggle all the time too (to encourage language development) and have since he was a baby. Another favorite (for encouraging reading and writing and language development) is Mad Libs. Charlie also participates in the local library reading competition every summer (with the help of his brothers and “books-on-tape”.) He loves the idea of reading and the input (the vocabulary, the characters and the stories) he gets from reading… but this is the first time it has clicked to the point where he was both willing to AND able to read a whole chapter book on his own. I’m excited for what the future holds for him (I expect it will include the next book in this series!]
Some more about Charlie
Charlie was Lead poisoned in utero (I had a blood test for Lead – a BLL test – when I was pregnant with him – a test I had to fight to get but was granted because of my older children’s history of Lead exposure at the time.) You can read that story on this link.
Charlie was also later Lead poisoned in the home where we live now. This happened because – based on the advice of experts at the time (12+ years ago) I had assumed we had taken care of all of the hazards – but I later learned that hazard assessments are insufficient to protect children and we had not taken care of all of the ACTUAL hazards / there were still significant hazards in our home in spite of the fact that we had a hazard assessment done and had taken care of all of the recommended interventions. I have not written up that full story, but will some day! [Some of it is here.]
As a result of my experience with my youngest son Charlie (who is arguably my child with the most significant disabilities) – I recommend that all women of childbearing age get tested for Lead exposure prior to conception if at all possible. I also recommend that all pregnant women get tested and that children get tested both before crawling and after they start being mobile (you can read more about those recommendations here.)
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Tamara Rubin is a Federal-award-winning independent advocate for consumer goods safety and a documentary filmmaker. She is also a mother of Lead-poisoned children. Tamara’s sons were acutely Lead-poisoned in August of 2005. She began testing consumer goods for toxicants in 2009 and was the parent-advocate responsible for finding Lead in the popular fidget spinner toys in 2017. Her work was also responsible for two CPSC product recalls in the summer of 2022, the Jumping Jumperoo recall (June 2022) and the Lead painted NUK baby bottle recall (July 2022) and was featured in an NPR story about Lead in consumer goods in August of 2022. Tamara uses XRF testing (a scientific method used by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission) to test consumer goods for toxicants (specifically heavy metals), including Lead, Cadmium, Mercury, Antimony, and Arsenic. All test results reported on this website are science-based, accurate, and replicable. Items are tested multiple times, to confirm the test results for each component tested and reported on. Please click through to this link to learn more about the testing methodology used for the test results discussed and reported on this website.