From the Wire

Reading Is Like Music by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo

Get ready to rock with Lupe Lopez in “Lupe Lopez: Reading Rock Star” by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo and Pat Zietlow Miller. Lupe is a confident rock star, but when it comes to reading aloud, she faces new challenges that shake her confidence. With the help of her first-grade teacher and her bandmates, Lupe learns that reading is like music, and that even rock stars can stumble. In this celebration of friendship and the joy of reading, Lupe Lopez shows us that trying is what truly makes a rock star. Get ready for a story that will make you want to dance and sing along!

Reading Is Like Music by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo

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The author’s childhood aspirations

At the age of four, you wanted three things: to win an Oscar, write stories, and be the drummer for the rock band Kiss. In full disclosure, these were not the typical aspirations of kids growing up in Mathis, Texas. A sleepy, three stop light town with a Dairy Queen, a Pizza Hut, a couple of card table restaurants and a few churches for praise and prayer. But in this blink of a town off I-37, you were determined to dream beyond the city limit sign… even in kindergarten!

Early struggles with reading

Adorning a pair of gas station sunglasses, you strutted the halls of Weber Elementary toting your metal Kiss lunch box. Attempting to emulate Tiger Beat magazine cool, your persona and musical acumen soon collided with the realities of school. Like Lupe in Lupe Lopez: Rock Star Rules, co-authored with Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrations by Joe Cepeda, you had to learn the balance of school rules and maintaining your rock star ambitions. But a bigger obstacle lie in wait. Something you had no words for but threatened your ability to shine: an undiagnosed form of dyslexia.

Reading Is Like Music by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo

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Promotion to advanced reader

Prior to starting school, your journey with reading had been paved by your adopted father using expired credit cards or issues of Texas Highways as a primer. His patience was short for wrong answers, so you learned to memorize the words as he read them. Your cheat – your way of masking – was to parrot the words back since you couldn’t decode many of the words.

Because your comprehension of story was high, your first-grade teacher promoted you from the laminated, ring tethered book Pug to the hard bound second grade Blue Dilly Dilly. The euphoria and pride of carrying a bound book (that required an actual book cover) made you feel more rock star than ever! Unfortunately, a promotion to “advanced reader” status meant you had to read aloud more often and sometimes without rehearsal. With so many words, you were overwhelmed. Your cheats capsized, and you shut down.

The impact of dyslexia

After your teacher sent a note to your parents, the wrath of your father was immediate. No music. No drumming. No writing. “There are no rewards for acting dumb,” he had said.

Dumb was the word that stung and stuck. That froze you up. Again, and again. Which was asinine because you loved words. The sounds, the shapes – the stories they could make. Your little kid brain understood the meaning of so many words. They were like music to you, but you couldn’t always accurately pronounce them.

You spent the rest of first grade in a kind of limbo. Your rock star dimming.

Reading Is Like Music by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo

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Reading as music

Then your second-grade teacher Mrs. Z. let you in on a secret: reading is like music. Little by little, she matched your passion of music to the decoding of words. Playing music in class; she used the lyrics as a kind of primer. It wasn’t the fix for everything, but it was your first real chance to read without shame.

Writing Lupe Lopez: Reading Rock Star

When Pat and I began writing Lupe Lopez: Reading Rock Star, it had been over twenty years since we thought about my early challenges with reading. The shame I carried every day when I stepped off the school bus. However, Lupe’s journey is not a copy/paste of my experience. It was important to Pat and me to write the story with authenticity beyond personal experience. We talked with elementary teachers about the various challenges young readers might encounter. About the social and emotional shifts from kindergarten to first grade. About how teachers might meet their students where they are and help them thread connections from one word to the next.

Through writing this book, Pat and I shared our very different experiences around reading. For her, reading was vested in regular trips to the local library where books were in ample supply. Whereas Mathis was a book desert. If there were books with Brown characters, they were often depicted as criminals, villains, or relegated to jobs such as maids or migrant laborers. Leaving me asking where were the Mexican American rock stars? Did someone like me not exist in a book?

Because of our shared love of stories that celebrate all young readers, Pat and I honored both of our experiences and imaginations when creating Lupe and the kids at Hector P. Garcia Elementary. With Joe Cepeda’s vivid illustrations, showcasing many kinds of kids, Lupe’s world leaps and shimmers off the page.

Reading Is Like Music by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo

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Challenges young readers may encounter

Reading can be a challenging skill for many young readers, especially when they face learning disorders like dyslexia. Dyslexia can make reading and decoding words more difficult, which can impact a child’s confidence and academic performance. Additionally, young readers may struggle with reading aloud, comprehending complex texts, and finding books that represent their own experiences and identity. These challenges can hinder their love for reading and their ability to develop strong literacy skills.

Representation in books

Representation in books is vital for young readers. When children see characters who look like them, come from similar backgrounds, or share their experiences, it validates their identities and helps them form positive self-images. Unfortunately, the lack of diverse representation in children’s literature can leave many young readers feeling excluded and unseen. It’s crucial for authors, publishers, and educators to prioritize diverse voices and stories, ensuring that all children have access to books that reflect their realities and celebrate their cultures.

Reading Is Like Music by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo

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Creating Lupe Lopez and Hector P. Garcia Elementary

In Lupe Lopez: Reading Rock Star, the main character Lupe faces challenges with reading but discovers the power of perseverance and finding her own unique way to shine. The book aims to inspire young readers to embrace their love for reading and overcome obstacles they may encounter. Lupe’s journey is set in Hector P. Garcia Elementary, a diverse and inclusive school that celebrates its students’ individual talents and passions. By creating this vibrant and welcoming setting, the book emphasizes the importance of inclusive learning environments that encourage all students to thrive.

Summary of Lupe Lopez: Reading Rock Star

Lupe Lopez: Reading Rock Star, written by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo and Pat Zietlow Miller, with illustrations by Joe Cepeda, takes readers on a journey with Lupe, a first-grade student who dreams of becoming a reading rock star. Lupe faces challenges with reading aloud and a classmate who mocks her, but with the support of her teacher and friends, she discovers that reading is like music. The book explores the power of friendship, the importance of embracing one’s unique talents, and the value of perseverance. Through Lupe’s story, young readers are encouraged to find their own shine and believe in themselves, no matter what challenges they may face.