Tales of a Dyslexic Superhero

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When my son was born, I couldn’t wait until he was old enough to cozy up with me in a café on a rainy day, deep in our respective novels. Then came his diagnoses—dyslexia, accompanied by ADHD, anxiety and a host of others—and everything changed.

From the start, Lucas wasn’t easy. I had a difficult pregnancy, then a worse delivery, followed by nine months of severe colic. Sleep disorder, the pediatrician wrote on his chart, and I laughed. Don’t all babies have a sleep disorder? I asked her, and she shook her head, frowning. Not like this. My friend, a former clinical social worker, regarded my son with disbelief. I thought you were exaggerating, she said. I’ve never seen a child like this.

The words echoed in my head as my son screamed in his car seat, in his baby Bjorn, in the grocery store and the park and the swing: Not like this. While I certainly hadn’t expected parenting to be a picnic, I had not anticipated that my child would react as if he were allergic to the world, perpetually affronted by everything it had to offer. As I walked my hysterical infant back and forth across the floor for the fifth straight hour, I dreamed of the day when all of this would be behind us—when we would talk and play and read together. Books had always been my refuge, writing my escape. How could I not want to share with my son that magical moment when the perfect phrase transforms the way we see the world?

He did, indeed, stop screaming. He did begin to sleep. But as Lucas grew into a toddler and then a kindergartner, it became clear to me that something remained amiss. One day he could recognize letters; the next day they were a mystery. He couldn’t remember the days of the week, the seasons, or the months of the year. The director of his preschool remarked on the awkward way he gripped a pencil in his chubby fist, her brow creased with concern. I’d like to try him with an adaptive grip, she said. I didn’t know then that the need for an adaptive grip—a specialized attachment for a pencil or pen—could be a hallmark of dysgraphia, a difficulty with forming written language. All I knew was that whatever the words meant, it was not good.

At a friend’s party the year he turned four, other children ran around the back yard, screaming and chasing each other in typical chaos. Lucas knelt alone, digging in the dirt. When I asked him what he was doing, he looked up at me, his face guileless. “Can’t you see, Mama?” he said. “I’m es-cavating.”

The parent who stood next to me smiled, impressed. “Isn’t he smart?” she said.

I agreed. He was. But inside, my heart shrunk into a mummified ball. I would have traded a bit of his precocious intelligence for a drop of the ability to belong, to grasp the secret language—both spoken and unspoken—that allowed everyone else to blend into the herd. I wanted him to be intelligent, sure. What parent wouldn’t? But more than anything, I wanted him to be happy. And so often, he was not. The slightest deviation from the way he’d hoped something would turn out—a Lego construction, a drawing—would send him into an uncontrollable spiral, tears streaming down his face as he screamed, “It’s not perfect! It’s not perfect!” louder and louder until the words dissolved into formless shrieks.

Nor was that all. Loud noises terrified him, as did the unexpected. He feared dive-bombing bees, water, tricycles because they required him to lift his feet off the ground. We live at the beach, and every summer I watched children leap into the waves—but Lucas recoiled in fear, shrieking until I let him run back to a safe haven. At birthday parties, he refused to play on the bouncy castles and inflatable slides, begging me to take him from one air compressor to another, like the world’s smallest safety inspector. Sometimes when I spoke, he seemed not to hear me.

My background in youth development and my experience working with kids—not to mention my instincts—had taught me enough to know that something was wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Autism? I’d think when he refused to smile, when his eyes slid away from mine, when he obsessively lined up his toy cars and howled at the feel of the wind on his face. Low muscle tone? I’d think when he was unable to tie his shoes or turn a doorknob to get from one room to the next. Auditory processing disorder? I’d think when he passed the preschool’s hearing test with flying colors but didn’t respond to me unless I stood directly in his line of sight. Dyslexia? I’d wonder as I traced the letters of the alphabet first on his hand, then on his back, then in the sand for him to feel and see . . . only to have him forget them all over again.

And yet. He was perceptive and articulate, his vocabulary well beyond that of most children his age. He was gentle. He understood stories when they were read to him. He had an incredible imagination and a formidable capacity for abstract thought, a near-crippling tendency toward empathy. Something didn’t add up. Something didn’t fit.

When Lucas was four, I took him to an occupational therapist for evaluation. They confirmed much of what I’d observed—the poor muscle tone, the disparity between his cognitive performance and his fine and gross motor skills, the paralyzing fears. Twice a week, we drove forty-five minutes so that they could work with him. The therapist came to his preschool. Slowly but surely, he progressed, meeting the goals they’d set. He graduated from the occupational therapy program. He started kindergarten at a Quaker school that celebrated the individual light in every child and took a Montessori approach to education. He began, for the first time, to feel comfortable in a classroom environment. His teachers gave me glowing reports. And yet something was still not right. I knew it. I could feel it, but I couldn’t define it.

Then came first grade, and the advent of required reading. Midway through the school year—a year in which Lucas faked coughing fits when asked to read in class and came home sobbing, repeating, “I’m so stupid!” over and over as he slapped himself across the face—he had his first psychoeducational evaluation. When I saw the results—the portrait of a highly gifted child whose potential for achievement was masked by a dizzying array of acronyms—I felt a pang of sorrow for what I imagined I had lost, for the struggles I envisioned he would face. On its heels came a wave of relief. Finally, I knew what was wrong. Finally, I could help.

That day, I made my son a promise. I would never let him think he was faulty or broken. He would learn that he was wired differently, and even though words slid sideways, blurred and leaped off the page, we could still read together. We would just have to find another way—and we did: audiobooks, graphic novels, fonts that rendered the gibberish of print into legible text.

Determined to better comprehend the way he saw the world, I read books—The Dyslexic Advantage, by Brock and Fernette Eide, Overcoming Dyslexia, by Sally Shaywitz. I frequented websites—The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, The International Dyslexia Association, understood.org. I hired a tutor. I had honest, frank conversations with my son about his disability, conversations that evolved and became more complex as he aged. The core message, though, remained the same: Dyslexia doesn’t mean you aren’t smart. You’re very smart, but you’ll always have to work harder to read. The good news is, we can do things to make it easier. Don’t give up. I’m behind you all the way. The school made accommodations. Lucas learned to cope. And bit by bit, progress began to take place. He found that he had a love and talent for creating art, especially complex, detailed drawings that told a story as surely as any printed word. He discovered a passion for tae kwon do and trained five days a week, earning his second-degree black belt by the age of ten. Through instructing lower belts at the dojang, he realized that he loved to teach, to help others overcome whatever hurdles were obstructing their way. He has gained patience and compassion, humility and strength.

This June, Lucas finished fifth grade. Two months earlier, he stood in front of his class and gave a speech about what it’s like to live with dyslexia and ADHD. He wanted to do this, he told me, so that it would help other people understand. He is open about his differences, quick to advocate for himself and others. My dyslexia is never going to go away, he wrote. It’s always going to be there. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It allows me to have more of a feel for people, to think about reasons why someone’s upset. I don’t just think about myself.

 He’s right—his dyslexia hasn’t gone away, nor have the other issues that the psychologist described on that long-ago evaluation form. Despite his giftedness, Lucas still struggles with tasks that come easily to his peers, and it shatters my heart to watch. But healing takes place two days a week, when I pick him up after school and we go to a bookstore. Strolling by the stacks of Harry Potter novels, we appreciate the beauty of their new covers—designed by Kazu Kibuishi, author of the Amulet series, whose work Lucas admires so much that he wrote him a fan letter, complete with a sketch of his favorite character. Preoccupied as I am with the written word, I might not ever have noticed this, but as we pass the display table, Lucas grabs my arm. “Hey, Mom,” he says. “Doesn’t the style of that artist look familiar? Hang on a minute.”

The words inside their covers may overwhelm and frustrate him, but still he handles the Harry Potter books with care, admiring Kazu Kibuishi’s work, discovering how, when you line up all the spines, they form a single image of Hogwarts Castle. And then he puts the books down again, careful not to disturb the harmony of the stacks. He may never read them in the original, and it doesn’t matter; we’ve listened to the audiobooks of the whole series, sharing the young wizard’s story in a way that we might never have done, had Lucas been able to read them alone. For us, reading has become something more than the retreat it was for me as a child. It has become a shared experience, something to talk about and question and explore.

My long-ago dream of us cozying up together with our favorite books may have changed, but it has not died. There in the bookstore, I choose my book, he chooses his—a graphic novel featuring the latest adventures of his favorite superheroes, or National Geographic fact encyclopedias filled with pictures that capture his imagination. Together we walk to the café, together we order what we always order. Together we read.

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When my son was born, I couldn’t wait until he was old enough to cozy up with me in a café on a rainy day, deep in our respective novels. Then came his diagnoses—dyslexia, accompanied by ADHD, anxiety and a host of others—and everything changed.

From the start, Lucas wasn’t easy. I had a difficult pregnancy, then a worse delivery, followed by nine months of severe colic. Sleep disorder, the pediatrician wrote on his chart, and I laughed. Don’t all babies have a sleep disorder? I asked her, and she shook her head, frowning. Not like this. My friend, a former clinical social worker, regarded my son with disbelief. I thought you were exaggerating, she said. I’ve never seen a child like this.

The words echoed in my head as my son screamed in his car seat, in his baby Bjorn, in the grocery store and the park and the swing: Not like this. While I certainly hadn’t expected parenting to be a picnic, I had not anticipated that my child would react as if he were allergic to the world, perpetually affronted by everything it had to offer. As I walked my hysterical infant back and forth across the floor for the fifth straight hour, I dreamed of the day when all of this would be behind us—when we would talk and play and read together. Books had always been my refuge, writing my escape. How could I not want to share with my son that magical moment when the perfect phrase transforms the way we see the world?

He did, indeed, stop screaming. He did begin to sleep. But as Lucas grew into a toddler and then a kindergartner, it became clear to me that something remained amiss. One day he could recognize letters; the next day they were a mystery. He couldn’t remember the days of the week, the seasons, or the months of the year. The director of his preschool remarked on the awkward way he gripped a pencil in his chubby fist, her brow creased with concern. I’d like to try him with an adaptive grip, she said. I didn’t know then that the need for an adaptive grip—a specialized attachment for a pencil or pen—could be a hallmark of dysgraphia, a difficulty with forming written language. All I knew was that whatever the words meant, it was not good.

At a friend’s party the year he turned four, other children ran around the back yard, screaming and chasing each other in typical chaos. Lucas knelt alone, digging in the dirt. When I asked him what he was doing, he looked up at me, his face guileless. “Can’t you see, Mama?” he said. “I’m es-cavating.”

The parent who stood next to me smiled, impressed. “Isn’t he smart?” she said.

I agreed. He was. But inside, my heart shrunk into a mummified ball. I would have traded a bit of his precocious intelligence for a drop of the ability to belong, to grasp the secret language—both spoken and unspoken—that allowed everyone else to blend into the herd. I wanted him to be intelligent, sure. What parent wouldn’t? But more than anything, I wanted him to be happy. And so often, he was not. The slightest deviation from the way he’d hoped something would turn out—a Lego construction, a drawing—would send him into an uncontrollable spiral, tears streaming down his face as he screamed, “It’s not perfect! It’s not perfect!” louder and louder until the words dissolved into formless shrieks.

Nor was that all. Loud noises terrified him, as did the unexpected. He feared dive-bombing bees, water, tricycles because they required him to lift his feet off the ground. We live at the beach, and every summer I watched children leap into the waves—but Lucas recoiled in fear, shrieking until I let him run back to a safe haven. At birthday parties, he refused to play on the bouncy castles and inflatable slides, begging me to take him from one air compressor to another, like the world’s smallest safety inspector. Sometimes when I spoke, he seemed not to hear me.

My background in youth development and my experience working with kids—not to mention my instincts—had taught me enough to know that something was wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Autism? I’d think when he refused to smile, when his eyes slid away from mine, when he obsessively lined up his toy cars and howled at the feel of the wind on his face. Low muscle tone? I’d think when he was unable to tie his shoes or turn a doorknob to get from one room to the next. Auditory processing disorder? I’d think when he passed the preschool’s hearing test with flying colors but didn’t respond to me unless I stood directly in his line of sight. Dyslexia? I’d wonder as I traced the letters of the alphabet first on his hand, then on his back, then in the sand for him to feel and see . . . only to have him forget them all over again.

And yet. He was perceptive and articulate, his vocabulary well beyond that of most children his age. He was gentle. He understood stories when they were read to him. He had an incredible imagination and a formidable capacity for abstract thought, a near-crippling tendency toward empathy. Something didn’t add up. Something didn’t fit.

When Lucas was four, I took him to an occupational therapist for evaluation. They confirmed much of what I’d observed—the poor muscle tone, the disparity between his cognitive performance and his fine and gross motor skills, the paralyzing fears. Twice a week, we drove forty-five minutes so that they could work with him. The therapist came to his preschool. Slowly but surely, he progressed, meeting the goals they’d set. He graduated from the occupational therapy program. He started kindergarten at a Quaker school that celebrated the individual light in every child and took a Montessori approach to education. He began, for the first time, to feel comfortable in a classroom environment. His teachers gave me glowing reports. And yet something was still not right. I knew it. I could feel it, but I couldn’t define it.

Then came first grade, and the advent of required reading. Midway through the school year—a year in which Lucas faked coughing fits when asked to read in class and came home sobbing, repeating, “I’m so stupid!” over and over as he slapped himself across the face—he had his first psychoeducational evaluation. When I saw the results—the portrait of a highly gifted child whose potential for achievement was masked by a dizzying array of acronyms—I felt a pang of sorrow for what I imagined I had lost, for the struggles I envisioned he would face. On its heels came a wave of relief. Finally, I knew what was wrong. Finally, I could help.

That day, I made my son a promise. I would never let him think he was faulty or broken. He would learn that he was wired differently, and even though words slid sideways, blurred and leaped off the page, we could still read together. We would just have to find another way—and we did: audiobooks, graphic novels, fonts that rendered the gibberish of print into legible text.

Determined to better comprehend the way he saw the world, I read books—The Dyslexic Advantage, by Brock and Fernette Eide, Overcoming Dyslexia, by Sally Shaywitz. I frequented websites—The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, The International Dyslexia Association, understood.org. I hired a tutor. I had honest, frank conversations with my son about his disability, conversations that evolved and became more complex as he aged. The core message, though, remained the same: Dyslexia doesn’t mean you aren’t smart. You’re very smart, but you’ll always have to work harder to read. The good news is, we can do things to make it easier. Don’t give up. I’m behind you all the way. The school made accommodations. Lucas learned to cope. And bit by bit, progress began to take place. He found that he had a love and talent for creating art, especially complex, detailed drawings that told a story as surely as any printed word. He discovered a passion for tae kwon do and trained five days a week, earning his second-degree black belt by the age of ten. Through instructing lower belts at the dojang, he realized that he loved to teach, to help others overcome whatever hurdles were obstructing their way. He has gained patience and compassion, humility and strength.

This June, Lucas finished fifth grade. Two months earlier, he stood in front of his class and gave a speech about what it’s like to live with dyslexia and ADHD. He wanted to do this, he told me, so that it would help other people understand. He is open about his differences, quick to advocate for himself and others. My dyslexia is never going to go away, he wrote. It’s always going to be there. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It allows me to have more of a feel for people, to think about reasons why someone’s upset. I don’t just think about myself.

 He’s right—his dyslexia hasn’t gone away, nor have the other issues that the psychologist described on that long-ago evaluation form. Despite his giftedness, Lucas still struggles with tasks that come easily to his peers, and it shatters my heart to watch. But healing takes place two days a week, when I pick him up after school and we go to a bookstore. Strolling by the stacks of Harry Potter novels, we appreciate the beauty of their new covers—designed by Kazu Kibuishi, author of the Amulet series, whose work Lucas admires so much that he wrote him a fan letter, complete with a sketch of his favorite character. Preoccupied as I am with the written word, I might not ever have noticed this, but as we pass the display table, Lucas grabs my arm. “Hey, Mom,” he says. “Doesn’t the style of that artist look familiar? Hang on a minute.”

The words inside their covers may overwhelm and frustrate him, but still he handles the Harry Potter books with care, admiring Kazu Kibuishi’s work, discovering how, when you line up all the spines, they form a single image of Hogwarts Castle. And then he puts the books down again, careful not to disturb the harmony of the stacks. He may never read them in the original, and it doesn’t matter; we’ve listened to the audiobooks of the whole series, sharing the young wizard’s story in a way that we might never have done, had Lucas been able to read them alone. For us, reading has become something more than the retreat it was for me as a child. It has become a shared experience, something to talk about and question and explore.

My long-ago dream of us cozying up together with our favorite books may have changed, but it has not died. There in the bookstore, I choose my book, he chooses his—a graphic novel featuring the latest adventures of his favorite superheroes, or National Geographic fact encyclopedias filled with pictures that capture his imagination. Together we walk to the café, together we order what we always order. Together we read.

When my son was born, I couldn’t wait until he was old enough to cozy up with me in a café on a rainy day, deep in our respective novels. Then came his diagnoses—dyslexia, accompanied by ADHD, anxiety and a host of others—and everything changed.

From the start, Lucas wasn’t easy. I had a difficult pregnancy, then a worse delivery, followed by nine months of severe colic. Sleep disorder, the pediatrician wrote on his chart, and I laughed. Don’t all babies have a sleep disorder? I asked her, and she shook her head, frowning. Not like this. My friend, a former clinical social worker, regarded my son with disbelief. I thought you were exaggerating, she said. I’ve never seen a child like this.

The words echoed in my head as my son screamed in his car seat, in his baby Bjorn, in the grocery store and the park and the swing: Not like this. While I certainly hadn’t expected parenting to be a picnic, I had not anticipated that my child would react as if he were allergic to the world, perpetually affronted by everything it had to offer. As I walked my hysterical infant back and forth across the floor for the fifth straight hour, I dreamed of the day when all of this would be behind us—when we would talk and play and read together. Books had always been my refuge, writing my escape. How could I not want to share with my son that magical moment when the perfect phrase transforms the way we see the world?

He did, indeed, stop screaming. He did begin to sleep. But as Lucas grew into a toddler and then a kindergartner, it became clear to me that something remained amiss. One day he could recognize letters; the next day they were a mystery. He couldn’t remember the days of the week, the seasons, or the months of the year. The director of his preschool remarked on the awkward way he gripped a pencil in his chubby fist, her brow creased with concern. I’d like to try him with an adaptive grip, she said. I didn’t know then that the need for an adaptive grip—a specialized attachment for a pencil or pen—could be a hallmark of dysgraphia, a difficulty with forming written language. All I knew was that whatever the words meant, it was not good.

At a friend’s party the year he turned four, other children ran around the back yard, screaming and chasing each other in typical chaos. Lucas knelt alone, digging in the dirt. When I asked him what he was doing, he looked up at me, his face guileless. “Can’t you see, Mama?” he said. “I’m es-cavating.”

The parent who stood next to me smiled, impressed. “Isn’t he smart?” she said.

I agreed. He was. But inside, my heart shrunk into a mummified ball. I would have traded a bit of his precocious intelligence for a drop of the ability to belong, to grasp the secret language—both spoken and unspoken—that allowed everyone else to blend into the herd. I wanted him to be intelligent, sure. What parent wouldn’t? But more than anything, I wanted him to be happy. And so often, he was not. The slightest deviation from the way he’d hoped something would turn out—a Lego construction, a drawing—would send him into an uncontrollable spiral, tears streaming down his face as he screamed, “It’s not perfect! It’s not perfect!” louder and louder until the words dissolved into formless shrieks.

Nor was that all. Loud noises terrified him, as did the unexpected. He feared dive-bombing bees, water, tricycles because they required him to lift his feet off the ground. We live at the beach, and every summer I watched children leap into the waves—but Lucas recoiled in fear, shrieking until I let him run back to a safe haven. At birthday parties, he refused to play on the bouncy castles and inflatable slides, begging me to take him from one air compressor to another, like the world’s smallest safety inspector. Sometimes when I spoke, he seemed not to hear me.

My background in youth development and my experience working with kids—not to mention my instincts—had taught me enough to know that something was wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Autism? I’d think when he refused to smile, when his eyes slid away from mine, when he obsessively lined up his toy cars and howled at the feel of the wind on his face. Low muscle tone? I’d think when he was unable to tie his shoes or turn a doorknob to get from one room to the next. Auditory processing disorder? I’d think when he passed the preschool’s hearing test with flying colors but didn’t respond to me unless I stood directly in his line of sight. Dyslexia? I’d wonder as I traced the letters of the alphabet first on his hand, then on his back, then in the sand for him to feel and see . . . only to have him forget them all over again.

And yet. He was perceptive and articulate, his vocabulary well beyond that of most children his age. He was gentle. He understood stories when they were read to him. He had an incredible imagination and a formidable capacity for abstract thought, a near-crippling tendency toward empathy. Something didn’t add up. Something didn’t fit.

When Lucas was four, I took him to an occupational therapist for evaluation. They confirmed much of what I’d observed—the poor muscle tone, the disparity between his cognitive performance and his fine and gross motor skills, the paralyzing fears. Twice a week, we drove forty-five minutes so that they could work with him. The therapist came to his preschool. Slowly but surely, he progressed, meeting the goals they’d set. He graduated from the occupational therapy program. He started kindergarten at a Quaker school that celebrated the individual light in every child and took a Montessori approach to education. He began, for the first time, to feel comfortable in a classroom environment. His teachers gave me glowing reports. And yet something was still not right. I knew it. I could feel it, but I couldn’t define it.

Then came first grade, and the advent of required reading. Midway through the school year—a year in which Lucas faked coughing fits when asked to read in class and came home sobbing, repeating, “I’m so stupid!” over and over as he slapped himself across the face—he had his first psychoeducational evaluation. When I saw the results—the portrait of a highly gifted child whose potential for achievement was masked by a dizzying array of acronyms—I felt a pang of sorrow for what I imagined I had lost, for the struggles I envisioned he would face. On its heels came a wave of relief. Finally, I knew what was wrong. Finally, I could help.

That day, I made my son a promise. I would never let him think he was faulty or broken. He would learn that he was wired differently, and even though words slid sideways, blurred and leaped off the page, we could still read together. We would just have to find another way—and we did: audiobooks, graphic novels, fonts that rendered the gibberish of print into legible text.

Determined to better comprehend the way he saw the world, I read books—The Dyslexic Advantage, by Brock and Fernette Eide, Overcoming Dyslexia, by Sally Shaywitz. I frequented websites—The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, The International Dyslexia Association, understood.org. I hired a tutor. I had honest, frank conversations with my son about his disability, conversations that evolved and became more complex as he aged. The core message, though, remained the same: Dyslexia doesn’t mean you aren’t smart. You’re very smart, but you’ll always have to work harder to read. The good news is, we can do things to make it easier. Don’t give up. I’m behind you all the way. The school made accommodations. Lucas learned to cope. And bit by bit, progress began to take place. He found that he had a love and talent for creating art, especially complex, detailed drawings that told a story as surely as any printed word. He discovered a passion for tae kwon do and trained five days a week, earning his second-degree black belt by the age of ten. Through instructing lower belts at the dojang, he realized that he loved to teach, to help others overcome whatever hurdles were obstructing their way. He has gained patience and compassion, humility and strength.

This June, Lucas finished fifth grade. Two months earlier, he stood in front of his class and gave a speech about what it’s like to live with dyslexia and ADHD. He wanted to do this, he told me, so that it would help other people understand. He is open about his differences, quick to advocate for himself and others. My dyslexia is never going to go away, he wrote. It’s always going to be there. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It allows me to have more of a feel for people, to think about reasons why someone’s upset. I don’t just think about myself.

 He’s right—his dyslexia hasn’t gone away, nor have the other issues that the psychologist described on that long-ago evaluation form. Despite his giftedness, Lucas still struggles with tasks that come easily to his peers, and it shatters my heart to watch. But healing takes place two days a week, when I pick him up after school and we go to a bookstore. Strolling by the stacks of Harry Potter novels, we appreciate the beauty of their new covers—designed by Kazu Kibuishi, author of the Amulet series, whose work Lucas admires so much that he wrote him a fan letter, complete with a sketch of his favorite character. Preoccupied as I am with the written word, I might not ever have noticed this, but as we pass the display table, Lucas grabs my arm. “Hey, Mom,” he says. “Doesn’t the style of that artist look familiar? Hang on a minute.”

The words inside their covers may overwhelm and frustrate him, but still he handles the Harry Potter books with care, admiring Kazu Kibuishi’s work, discovering how, when you line up all the spines, they form a single image of Hogwarts Castle. And then he puts the books down again, careful not to disturb the harmony of the stacks. He may never read them in the original, and it doesn’t matter; we’ve listened to the audiobooks of the whole series, sharing the young wizard’s story in a way that we might never have done, had Lucas been able to read them alone. For us, reading has become something more than the retreat it was for me as a child. It has become a shared experience, something to talk about and question and explore.

My long-ago dream of us cozying up together with our favorite books may have changed, but it has not died. There in the bookstore, I choose my book, he chooses his—a graphic novel featuring the latest adventures of his favorite superheroes, or National Geographic fact encyclopedias filled with pictures that capture his imagination. Together we walk to the café, together we order what we always order. Together we read.

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