MARISSA PAYNE The Gazette
CEDAR RAPIDS (AP) – Before the end of 2020, Paloma Bribriesco has set an ambitious goal to reach in 2021: then 5 years old, she decided she would read 500 books during the year – 100 for every year of life.
At just 6 years old, Paloma surpassed his goal by finishing 519 pounds this year. Throughout her literary journey she has consumed a variety of stories, from tales of Somali refugees growing up in a refugee camp to non-fiction books on dinosaurs and the environment. Her dedication to reading impressed her own family and inspired community members to resolve to read more on their own.
What motivated her to take up this challenge? “My love of reading,” she wrote in her reading journal.
After hearing her parents discuss New Year’s resolutions and the vague mention of her mother wanting to know more, Paloma wanted to read 1,000 books first.
“At that point, she was a pretty good reader, but I did some math to make it more realistic,” her mother, Jasmine Hernandez, told the Cedar Rapids Gazette.
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Hernandez said her daughter was a good reader for her age. She even gets special access to the library at All Saints Catholic School. “You have to go to a specific area for your grade, and I can go to the fifth grade section,” said Paloma, a first grader at the school.
She documented the finished books in her journal with check marks. When Paloma got bored with these, she started a “stamp board”, replacing the check marks with doodles related to the books she was reading – she marked her completion of the Magic Tree House book “A Perfect Time For” Pandas “, for example, with a panda doodle. She followed her overall progress towards her goal by completing a thermometer drawing.
When not reading she enjoys doing karate at the Northwest Recreation Center (she has a white belt with a black stripe), swimming and playing soccer in good weather, cooking (most recently she made popsicles for Christmas) and spending time with his family. She loves the environment too, so she documents the natural world by discovering new things on hikes and discovering the land through her favorite genre, non-fiction.
Paloma often watches films adapted from books she has read. Typically, she likes the movie version more, but “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” was an exception. She found the movie “too scary” so she favors the first book in JK Rowling’s popular fantasy novel series. (Don’t worry, Potter fans: she has declared that she is “not a Slytherin.”)
Paloma’s parents read to her regularly when she was younger, and from there she took off and loved doing it on her own.
“Reading is also my only kryptonite, so it’s late at night and she should probably go to bed, but she just wants to read one more chapter, and I’m having a hard time saying no,” Hernandez said.
It’s bittersweet for his father, Andrew Bribriesco. He loved to read to his daughter. They each read a chapter in turn. Over the past year or so, she has become such a voracious reader that she prefers to do it alone.
From one to three times a week, Hernandez takes his daughter to the library to pick up a new selection of books, which are kept on a counter near the refrigerator for Paloma to pick up at any time.
Hernandez chooses books for his daughter based on her interests – for example, they might choose books on the prairie lands after taking a summer walk in the prairies. She’s also representational-minded to expand her daughter’s knowledge base (in November, ahead of the Thanksgiving celebration, she selected Indigenous stories). And she chooses a book in Spanish to continue practicing the language.
For parents who hope to help their children become successful readers, Hernandez considered behavioral modeling key.
“Despite not having a lot of time in our lives, we still try to make a point of reading in front of the children and reading real books rather than just sitting on our phones, and it’s amazing to how well they model your behavior, ”Hernandez said. “Andrew and I as parents read. It makes Paloma want to read, and reading it actually makes his 2 year old brother want to read, so he’s going to sit there and turn the pages and make up a story with the pictures.
Bribriesco said Paloma observes her parents’ reading behavior, sometimes asking her mother, “Are you still on this book? “
Paloma’s Nature Journal lists the many state parks and other places she has visited. But reading “exposes you to more people than you would normally see,” Hernandez said. As many places she has visited in real life, she said Paloma “has been in so many other places in her books.”
“I even went to…” Paloma paused, turning to her mother to ask, “What is the highest mountain in America?” After a few moments, Paloma exclaimed “Denali,” referring to the Alaskan mountain. Now they can save money by skipping an actual trip there, Hernandez joked.
But the knowledge Paloma absorbed from the books influenced some of the family’s trips. On a trip to Texas, the Bribriesco’s stopped to see the Giant Eyeball, a 30-foot-tall fiberglass sculpture of an eyeball in Dallas – because Paloma read about it. Her father said she read that the Alamo in San Antonio was haunted – “Haunted,” Paloma said in a chilling voice – so they visited him as well.
“It really opened up our world too,” Bribriesco said.
Hernandez, from Chicago, said his parents were from Mexico. Her father never went to school, so her parents prioritized reading and education as she grew up. Today, she passes on this passion for reading to her children.
“Every time I look at her, her and my son, I always think about where I’m from, where my parents were from,” Hernandez said, adding that they “are the wildest dreams of our ancestors.” , with reference to a popular quote.
Paloma’s near-constant consumption of books continues to impress her parents, and they are proud to see her commitment to reading inspire the community. But Andrew Bribriesco said he initially didn’t grasp the magnitude of his 500-pound reading goal until he saw the positive response.