I am so excited about this post. It is about Ryan’s favorite thing to do: read books! I know that we have talked about Ryan’s love of books before, so as I was considering possible field trips that incorporated interviews, I thought that Barnes & Noble would be perfect!
If you have been following Ryan’s journey, you know that he is able to read, but tracking the small print in a book, while attending, not losing his place, and not stimming on the book are all hard things for Ryan. We are working on independently reading, but we are not there yet with novels. As part of his homeschooling day, I often read aloud to Ryan. We read novels, the Who Was/Is series (which includes What is and Where is), and we are also currently reading a book on the U.S. Presidents, a book on the individual states of the U.S., and a book on Catholic heroes.
I asked Ryan for a list of his favorite books and he came up with the following:
- Gregor the Overlander series
- Harry Potter series
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians series
- The Heroes of Olympus series
- The Kane Chronicles trilogy
- The Trials of Apollo series
- Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard trilogy
- The I Survived series
- The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy
- A Wrinkle in Time
- Charlotte’s Web
- The Trumpet of the Swan (by the way, this is about a trumpet who can’t communicate and he goes to school and learns to read and write and carries a chalkboard around his neck (sounds like RPM) and his father gets an actual trumpet so that he can sound like the other swans (sounds like an Augmentative Communication Device!)
- Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
- The City Trilogy
- The Neverending Story
- The Girl Who Drank the Moon
- The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series(we are currently on book 5 of the series)
- The Who Was Series, specifically: Who was Helen Keller, Steve Jobs, Ronald Reagan, Louis Braille, the Beatles and Who is J.K. Rowling, and Pope Francis (I want to add that this series is fantastic for all ages and you can pick and choose the people, places, things, or events that you want your child to learn about and they are a quick read.)
So yeah, he couldn’t really narrow it down.
If we are driving around town, we are often listening to an audible book or a book on CD. We just finished the Chronicles of Narnia (all 7 books) and we just finished Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (our second read of it, first time on audiobook), all while driving (usually to grooming appointments for Freckles, picking Grace up from school in the carpool line, or a trip down and back to Austin to see Soma.)
Some of my favorite quotes ever from Ryan are centered around books. After we finished Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH and I mentioned that I wished that there was more closure, like I wish I knew if Mrs. Frisby would see Justin again and he said: A REAL ENDING MAKES IT TOO FINAL. I told Ryan that Grace has said something like that to me before because she likes to think in her head how she thinks the story will play out. He replied: CALLING IT FITTING SHE AGREES WITH ME.
When we finished Stuart Little and both of us were very perplexed by how the book ended (seriously it is like E.B. White just stopped writing): CARING TO THINK IT DESERVED A BETTER ENDING. I asked him if he liked the book. TOO LOVED IT UNTIL THE END.
He has said on many occasions: BOOKS ARE MY LIFE.
When asked about his favorite books, his reply: HAPPY TO BE IN SORT OF A GENRE. FEELING LIKE SORT OF FANTASY.
Several times a day (like at least 5-10 times) he asks me CAN WE READ NOW?
If we have been reading a lot and we take a break and I give him the choice of what to do next, he will ask ARE YOU TOO BOOKED OUT? My reply is always never (although my dry eyes may disagree).
I am of the opinion that you can’t read too much. All of the information is going in and helping to foster imagination and creativity. I think that that is why both Ryan and Grace have very good vocabularies.
If Ryan is having an off day, whether he did not sleep well or he is not feeling well or it just seems like he needs a “mental health day” (that’s what my mom used to call it) we will read a majority of the day.
Before learning about RPM, we had stopped reading age appropriate books to Ryan. I regret that. I used to read to him all the time when he was little and he loved books. By about 5 years old, I did not really read to him anymore. He did not sit still so I presumed he was not interested. I was wrong. So when we started RPM at 7 years old, we started reading age appropriate books because our provider, Erika Anderson of ACE RPM, recommended that we do it.
I will never forget when Ryan was in a session with Lenae Crandall of HEED RPM in May of 2015 and he was taking questions from local students at San Jose State University. One of them asked him what his favorite book was. He replied REALLY WANT TO READ HARRY POTTER. I was floored. I had no idea that he even knew Harry Potter. He later said that he knew about it BECAUSE KIDS AT MY SCHOOL ARE READING IT. He was in a public school at that time in a special needs classroom, but had shared time with other kids at lunch and at recess. We went to our local Barnes & Noble in San Jose and got the first book that night.
So as I mentioned above, I called our local Barnes & Noble last week and I asked if it would be possible for Ryan to interview some of the employees and have a tour of the store. I initially spoke with Jennifer McGinnis, the Assistant Store Manager at the Hurst, TX Barnes & Noble and then spoke with Mark Brown, the Community Business Development Manager. We set up a date and time of this past Monday at 4pm. This worked out great as Grace was able to join us too.
We got to the store a little early and checked in with the Customer Service area. Jennifer and Mark came out to greet us in the Children’s area and they pulled up a couple of seats and we began the interview. Ryan came up with some specific questions for them:
- WOULD YOU BE BOOK CRAZY IF YOU DIDN’T WORK HERE?
- WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE AUTHOR?
- WHEN DO YOU READ?
- WHEN IS IT BUSIEST IN THE STORE?
- REALLY BOOKS ARE MY LIFE. DO YOU LOVE BOOKS AS MUCH AS I DO?
- TOO LOVING TO ASK, DO YOU RECOMMEND ANY BOOKS FOR A KID MY AGE? TOTALLY LOVE FANTASY.
After they answered those, we asked them Ryan’s standard interview questions that he uses when we get the opportunity to interview someone on the spot while we are out and about.
What really struck me about this was that Jennifer and Mark were truly engaged in the interview and they did not appear to be rushed or hurrying us. Mark mentioned that he had checked out Ryan’s blog prior to our visiting. They talked candidly with the kids and gave them great suggestions on books. They also shared their passion for books and explained what their jobs entailed on a daily basis.
I was so moved by this. When I set up these tours and interviews, I never know how they will go. Most of the time they go well, but a few times they haven’t, either because it was rushed or the employee had too much to do. I felt like we could have stayed all day and Jennifer and Mark would have been fine with that. That meant a lot to me as a parent and a customer.
Jennifer and Mark then took us on a tour of the store. We met Eric in the storeroom and he explained what he does when the books come in. We then went to the register and Jennifer explained to us a little how it worked and finally we went to the cafe and Ryan and Grace were treated to a demonstration on how to make hot chocolate and they each got one to try!
And with that, the tour was done. Ryan ended with the following: TOO LOVING TO THANK YOU. REALLY WAS MY FAVORITE INTERVIEW YET. Then, Ryan, Grace, Freckles, and I went to do some damage in the children’s section (actually Ryan’s main pick was in the teen section).
When we sat down to talk about the experience, Ryan began with CAN REALLY WRITE THEM THANK YOU CARD.
So that is what we did first.
Then he proceeded to say: TOO LOVING THE TRIP YESTERDAY. JENNIFER AND MARK ARE AWESOME. THANKING THEM FOR TREATING ME LIKE EVERY OTHER BOY. I FOUND IT INTERESTING THAT JENNIFER STARTED IN THE CAFE. TOO LOVING HER STORY. IT MAKES ME THINK ALWAYS HARD WORK IS REWARDED. (Jennifer explained that her foot in the door with Barnes & Noble was working in the cafe and then she worked her way up).
MARK HAS A COOL JOB. HE GETS ALL OF EVENTS TO PLAN. CAN WE GO TO THE NEXT ONE?
“I will sign up for their calendar events and we can try to go whenever possible. I would love to see them again soon and we can certainly go back on a regular basis.”
I wanted to end by saying that I will forever be a Barnes & Noble customer. Jennifer and Mark rolled out the “Red Carpet” for Ryan and Grace. I know that this meant so much to Ryan and it truly meant a lot to me.