Thursday, December 20, 2012
Book Review - Hot Dogs & Hamburgers
by Rob Shindler
Published by Greenleaf Book Group
If there is one thing my family and friends all agree on, it is the fact that I am absolutely passionate about literacy. I am a voracious reader and have always surrounded myself with books; I helped set up and run the library at our local primary (elementary) school, I run the school book club and listen to children read in class.
I jumped at the chance to read and review this quite remarkable book, subtitled "Unlocking Life's Potential by Inspiring Literacy at Any Age". Rob Shindler is an unlikely literacy tutor. A successful lawyer, he wanted to help his son, Oliver - who had learning difficulties - to learn to read. Shindler is very candid about how difficult he found it to accept his son's diagnosis, and how frustrating he found it when he trying to help his son grasp the fundamentals of reading. Trial, error and a considerable amount of monetary bribery allowed him to gain some headway in motivating his son, but he wanted to find out other ways to help him too.
He decided to contact the Literacy Center of Chicago, and ended up undertaking their courses on literacy and how to teach it, and this is how he met the amazing group of adults who became his first literacy tutoring group. They were not what he expected. All of them were intelligent, quirky and warm people, very aware of what they had missed out on by not being able to read effectively, and determined to learn to read.
When Shindler has to temporarily leave his group to be with his dying mother and to then to help arrange care for his ailing father, it is Oliver and his twin sister Isabella who help to carry on the work with the adult literacy group. The twins develop new and innovative ways to reach out to the adults, and when Shindler comes back to teach, his group has made huge progress.
This is a truly delightful book; funny and desperately sad in equal measure, exasperating and heart-warming, it kept me rooting for Shindler's son Oliver and for all the adult learners we have met.