I have many beloved books from my childhood but the book that will forever be near and dear to my heart is Los Tres Cochinitos. When I was little, we owned a few books that were bilingual or completely in Spanish. Los Tres Cochinitos (written by Sally Bell, illustrated by Ellen Dolce and translated by Ivan Vazquez Rodriguez) is the Spanish translation of the Three Little Pigs.
It's often said that if parents read to their children, it helps instill a love of reading in them. I am proof that this statement is true, both my parents read to me and I am a bona fide bookworm. They read me everything from Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now, to The Napping House to fairytales.
My most vivid childhood reading memories center around my father reading to me in his dramatic voices; he would really get into reading the story. With Los Tres Cochinitos he would growl and deepen his voice to be El Lobo (the wolf) and when El Lobo came to knock hard on the door ("cochinito, cochinito, dejame entrar"), my father would bang on the back of the book (startling me every time). He would make his voice high-pitched for the pigs and he would blow air on us to demonstrate El Lobo huffing and puffing. I can still hear him shouting "And then he BLEW the house down" (he usually had to translate the book for us; to this day I don't remember much of the Spanish used in the book).
It's funny, I can't remember learning to read and I vaguely remember books I read in grade school, but I always remember Los Tres Cochinitos. I firmly believe that if it was not for my father's dramatic flair, I wouldn't have started reading as early as I did (I was an early and voracious reader, starting in the first grade with Beverly Cleary). My father's storytelling skills made the books even more interesting. As a result, I wanted to be able to read them myself and impress him with my own reading skills.
To me, Los Tres Cochinitos symbolizes more than just the story of the Three Little Pigs; it represents my father, my love of reading and my love for him. I can look at that book or just hear those words and fondly remember my father acting out the story through his voices and movements. However looking at the book also makes me sad. I don't have many memories of either of my parents reading on their own. My mother squeezes in reading time, but my father rarely reads books. This saddens me because they both love to read and they instilled this love in us, but it's a love that they can't act on because they are too busy. One of the sacrifices of having kids resulted in them buying and reading fewer books. I've also taken over many of the bookshelves in the house, regelating my parents' books to a few shelves. I am going to work on cleaning out our bookshelves to give them more space and read aloud to my younger brother. My hope is that this will repay them, in some small way.
Papi (if you're reading this), thank you not only for giving me more bookshelf space but also for buying me books when I was little. Thank you for reading to me and for entertaining me. Thank you for all the sacrifices you have made without complaint. You mean the world to me and this blog would not be here without you; your influence can be seen in many of my more serious posts. You have always urged me to not only speak my mind, but be able to back up my ideas. You always talked candidly to me about issues of race, literature and the world, and the result is (hopefully) a girl well on her way to being a well-rounded young woman.
Happy Father's Day to all fathers! Feliz Dia de los Padres, Papi!