“Reading is just interesting,” comments Makiko, an adult learner at Mid-State. As a native Japanese speaker, Makiko’s love for reading has inspired her to tackle the entire Harry Potter series in English, a formidable feat for this non-native speaker. Not wanting her son to miss out, she has encouraged this dual-language literacy in him as well. In this, Makiko is happy to see him follow his own tastes and talks with him about the Elmo and Sesame Street books he chooses. As a family, reading has a fit for everyone.

This is Makiko’s first time living here in State College with her family. However, she’s no stranger to the US. She resided in Chicago from 2009 until 2014 and then returned to Japan for nearly three and a half years. After returning to Chicago in February, 2018, she and her family made their way to State College in June of 2019. They were brought to central Pennsylvania because of her husband’s job.

Makiko chose the Harry Potter series because her Mid-State tutor recommended it. Together, they explore the language and rich details of the stories and it’s a big motivation for her during the tutoring sessions. She decided to follow through with reading the series because she had never seen any of the movies and had never thought to read the books either, so it was new to her. “After finishing each book I watch every movie,” Makiko said, which helps her compare and contrast the novels from the movies.

She also reads with her son. During this quarantine her son likes to read books in Japanese and English. Makiko struggles to read aloud in English to him, so she has found that the use of an online resource, Epic, helps her. Her son is also using Bookflix and Scholastic to help him learn reading in English. “Today we have lots of resources on the internet, especially with English. I do not like [my son] using [his] tablet [to read] … reading the book in paper form is better. I prefer to read regular books, but my pronunciation is not good for him. When he reads English book, [his] tablet is very helpful.” Thus, it seems that technology and the age-old joys of reading are not opposed after all. Her son, for one, is eager to explore the possibilities. Makiko may stick to paper, but on a cool summer evening, it’s likely that both will be found “book” in hand, reading in harmony.

by Erika Gerdes, Mid-State Literacy Council summer intern

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