Journal offers Thanksgiving treat for Albuquerque families - Albuquerque Journal

Journal offers Thanksgiving treat for Albuquerque families

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Parents and young children will find a special treat when they open the Albuquerque Journal on Thanksgiving Day.

A bilingual book, “Charles Reads/Carlos Lee,” written in English and Spanish, will be inserted to provide families with a little something extra to do together this holiday weekend.

The short story can be added to a child’s library and is geared for kids up to second grade. It provides an opportunity for children to read, or for parents to read to their children, which educators say is one of the best ways to cultivate literacy in kids.

First graders from Dolores Gonzales Elementary School follow along in “Charles Reads/Carlos Lee” as the Public Education Department and local McDonald’s restaurant franchises launched their literacy partnership in October.(ROBERTO E. ROSALES/JOURNAL)

The statistics for literacy in New Mexico are dismal: The state is ranked 49th; three out of four fourth graders are not proficient in reading; children who are not proficient in reading by fourth grade are four times more likely to later drop out of high school; nationwide, 85% of juveniles who face trial in the juvenile court system are functionally low literate.

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

The Journal reprinted more than 40,000 copies as part of The Literacy Project, an ongoing collaboration by the Journal, KOAT-TV and KKOB News Radio to promote literacy. The colorful book will be inserted into all copies of Thursday’s Journal, including those delivered to our subscribers’ doorsteps and those sold on newsstands and at businesses.

The story centers on a young boy who loves to play and dress up like a superhero with a cape and gloves and resists all attempts by family members to sit down with a book and read. That resistance dissolves when he comes across a book about superheroes:

“Then, Charles finds he reads with ease of villains falling to their knees. There are heroes drawn on every page of a book for kids just his age! Charles reads for days and days.”

“I want children to know the joy of reading and get excited about the story,” Bourg said. “They need that tactile sensation from a book, rather than the electronic digital experience. It’s something they can hold and turn the pages, and the story is in chronological order, uses simple words and involves some rhyming.”

Bourg, 42, is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he was a Spanish-language instructor at Louisiana State University. He moved to Albuquerque in late 2005. “After the hurricanes, I just decided that I wanted to live in a place that was sunny 300 days a year and with no major natural disasters,” he said.

In the course of teaching and tutoring, he quickly realized that children in New Mexico, like children in Louisiana, “had a literacy deficit,” he said. In particular, “kids who are primarily Spanish-language speakers were often labeled as ‘special ed’ kids, which is problematic because they might not be getting the appropriate instruction.”

He said he was hoping his bilingual version of “Charles Reads/Carlos Lee” will find a broader audience.

Bourg took some down time during the pandemic and began writing children’s books. He has published four and has two more on the way.

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

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

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