When moving to this small used to be a coal mining town three years ago, I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew during the winters, I would be cold and I knew during the summers I’d be mild. The school I would be teaching at, I knew the children wouldn’t really have the same upbringing as their neighbors who lived in middle class and upper middle class areas.
Where mountain dew mouth would be one of the most discussed problems of children in elementary school. It was also already known to me, many people did not expect much from those in the town. The boys were expected to turn into men and work the factories. The girls were expected to become stay-at-home moms with who knows how many babies on their hip. But what surprised me and those within this small town was how a sit down with my class reading a book would change their assumption and aspiration in life.
Every Friday, I sit with my 3rd grade class and read them books that are often free on the internet. Due to the financial strains of many of the children, they’re unable to really get their hands on books one would find at stores or even Amazon. One particular Friday, I decided to read them a chapter of a book from the internet, Pix: The Flight of the Phoenixes, Chapter 1: The Dragon Race. It was a random book, really. One I found by typing in certain tags in Google such as free books, and going through pages and pages of books being thrown my way.
I read the first chapter of the book; it’s an online book of an unpublished author so I didn’t assume it all to be perfect. There was to be a mistake here or there; however, what made it different was the fact the main characters were pixies. The book also had a strong emphasis on family and friendship. The conflict was also an easy concept to grasp A conflict between three different species: spell casters, humans, and mutants.
That particular Friday, I read the chapter to my children and saw at once their love for a particular character, Sonca of Gaara, the father of Pix of Gaara. What they loved of Sonca was more of his interaction with his youngest child and only daughter, Pix. The children seemed to light up when the parts of those two characters were read aloud, they inquired about more chapters, but was told sadly, there was only one at the moment. What was more amazing was when parent/teacher nights, fathers bought up the book-said they were unsure what the book was about and wanted to know more, the moms did too. Everyone was at a lost, really!
A message was sent out to the author, not expecting a reply. To my surprise a message was sent back from the author. They responded, “I am happy, over excited these children are enjoying the book so much. My plan was to just release the first chapter for free online, but after hearing all of these stories of how the kids want and requesting to spend more time with their families, I already started writing the second chapter. It’s going against the plan, but I’ll go ahead and release this one for free…”
In this small, low income town, many of the fathers are working 24/7 just to put food on the table. By the time the fathers are home, the children are usually asleep. This book, Pix, is helping fathers find their voice at work, not working too, too hard so as to spend more time with their children. After all, they won’t be kids forever.