MALDEN, MA — When Carlos entered Kristen Reidy’s first-grade class at the Salemwood School in Malden, Mass., nearly five years ago, his reading scores put him in the “at risk” category. He missed his dad, who was still in the family’s home country in Central America, and he “could get into some behavior problems if you didn’t have the right mitts to catch him and let him know you believe in him,” Ms. Reidy says.
By the end of first grade, Carlos (not his real name) had become one of the top readers, and Reidy, now his fifth-grade teacher, has watched him become “empowered” by reading.
When he chose Pam Muñoz Ryan’s award-winning “Esperanza Rising” – about a girl from Mexico who loses her wealthy father and has to work in a field in California – “he sat there one day and just was crying, going, ‘This is amazing.’… He has fallen so in love with literature,” Reidy says. He went home and made his mother read the book, too.