A long time ago, long before Tommy and Tina, long before Lisa and Maria, my grade two classmate read us a story from Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories. And I still remember sitting at my desk, my friend at the front, seated and reading “Jesus Understood”. The ending choked me up and still does.
Fast forward to when our children were little, and we bought the set of “Uncle Arthurs” and read the stories to our children.
Fast forward again to Tommy in the back seat of the car, telling me about a story Auntie Maria read to him. Ah yes, I recognize it and travel in my mind back to my grade two year.
Some would say we evolved as storytellers, Ug telling Glug what happened to poor Scrug when he knocked down the hornets’ nest, and others would say we were created as such by our creative God. Few, however, would deny the power of a good story.
Fast forward again–do I see Tommy reading Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories to his little one?
“There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.”
Ursula K. LeGuin
“Storytelling can change a room. It can change lives. It can change the world.”
“Shh!” Lisa warns me, and I stop reading out loud the note she’s passed to me. Tommy’s there and she doesn’t want him to know he’s winning an award.
Lisa e-mails me the details, and I learn that the award is for Oral French.
I’m pleased, but not at all surprised. Although my own French is poor, Tommy’s pronunciation does sound very good to me.
I’m reminded of a York University study that showed that the brain becomes more efficient when a person learns two languages. http://research.news.yorku.ca/2011/06/01/professor-ellen-bialystok-speaks-to-the-new-york-times-about-the-bilingual-advantage/ Bilinguals even do better on other kinds of multitasking and on some non-verbal tests—and those who develop Alzheimer’s cope better with the disease. In fact, neuroscientist Ellen Bialystok says, “Their whole brain appears to rewire because of bilingualism.”
This is exciting stuff, and it makes me happy all over again that Tommy and Tina are in French Immersion. As the principal slides back and forth between English and French during the year-end ceremony, he explains that this is what they want for the children: effortless transition.
Tommy doesn’t know how much fun it is for me to listen to him speak so clearly and confidently to his teachers in French. And he’s not aware of the research that confirms Lisa’s and Maria’s wisdom in enrolling their children in an immersion program.
But he does know that Grandpa and I are proud of him for getting his medal.