top of page
  • Writer's pictureChristine "Liz" LaRue

Home Remedies to Enact Community

Updated: Sep 4, 2023

Artwork by author: Liz Larue

One of the unique things this almost 3 year stint with the pandemic has brought us is closer ties to home. The pandemic shutdown due to fears of COVID exposure forced so many of us to stay at home as we limited our movements to our jobs, schools, even to other family members' homes. It forced many Americans to look around at home and take stock of how do we entertain ourselves (and could we actually get along with each other) in a sense of lockdown? Our children and teens lost a lot of education time and social learning - as did a lot of adults, too! The Internet became a window to the outside world, though sometimes that window could be overwhelming and cluttered with local and worldwide catastrophies. Did we LEARN anything? How many of us retreated into the world of books? Hardcover, novels, mysteries, computer tech, romance, DIY projects, history? If our children's reading scores dropped precipitously were they reading at home? What were they reading? Do our children see us as adults reading for learning or pleasure or both? Children imitate what they see. If you had access to the internet, all you needed was your library card and a whole new world online opened up. The average American reads on the 7th grade level. The U.S. literacy rate is only 86%. Canada's literacy rate is 99%, and Mexico's literacy is 93%. We Americans aren't doing a lot of reading. When you read you can go places you've never been, learn things you can hardly imagine. I grew up in a household where my folks always had a book in their hands. We talked about what we read at the dinner table, shared insights, jokes, even pointed out newspaper articles we thought other members of the family might like. One of the reasons United States literacy rates are so low is due to poor reading habits and undiagnosed reading disabilities. Our educational systems countrywide don't astutely screen for dyslexia in every state. Dyslexia is 90% of reading disabilities, with 1 in 5 Americans who are dyslexic. Dyslexia is not laziness but a a problem with how one's brain can decode sounds and comprehend the printed word into recognizable learning. If children don't understand sound differences well, it affects their ability to read. Same with vision difficulties. I have a dear friend who not only sees a printed page as a mirror image, but all the letters look like they have been cut out and dropped on a page helter skelter. When books came out on tape, it helped, but as much as he liked since he was born partially deaf. But books on tape opened his world to a new job as a short order cook for various restaurants. His first love? Reading new recipes! Reading can be broadening to one's thoughts, dreams and encompasses a huge array of other disciplines. Think about Rap and Hip Hop...poetry. Cooking gumbo, or mole sauce (sometimes 17 ingredients or more!) requires reading! You don't want to wing cooking gumbo and have your Grandmother smack her lips and say "Are you crazy? You left out the filé powder??!!" You think...what is filé powder? See, if you had read the recipe instead of imitating what you thought Grandma had done, she wouldn't be dissing you at the family gathering! You may hear about that missing filé powder story for weeks. Pick up a book. Curious about what you read, ask your local librarian. Testing out your interests in reading is like trying new sandwiches. You try something, see if you like it, or move onto another. I never truly understood the importance of reading until I started reading in another language. I started French classes in grammar school. It gave me an ability to converse with my Grandmother who spoke French and Louisiana Creole. When she spoke French, her personality was different, more relaxed, almost girlish. Some phrases she said to me had deeper meanings expressed in Creole than in English, especially terms of endearment. My family took a trip to Canada when I was a girl, and reading the signs in Quebec became a game for me and my father. That game helped me be able to read a menu in Quebec. At 6 years old, I learned to navigate going into a pastry shop in Quebec and buying pastries for my family. That boosted my 6 year old confidence and made me want to read more. So pandemic be damned! Cuddle up with your favorite book and travel through words. Try reading out loud to your kids. Have you ever tried reading Harry Potter out loud and try an English accent? Great family bonding hilarity can ensue! Try a book on tape and get lost in it. Reading is a great decompressor from a hectic day! Learn about history, and you might find some new leads for your ancestry search. Read about The Great Migration and those stories that your great grandparents told you might make more sense when they talked about escaping Mississippi due to the KKK lynchings. Do a bit of research on your favorite movie, like where was it filmed? Sometimes the stories of how a movie was made is just as entertaining as the movie itself. Now about that gumbo recipe....try shrimp and's a lot simpler recipe, and maybe Grandma won't bust you out this time...whew!


Christine LaRue

Artist Bio

Christine “Liz” LaRue is a clay artist and illustrationist. She is known for her intricately textured figurative sculptures and emotionally illustrative drawings. Chicago born though also raised in Utah and Idaho, Ms. LaRue is of Creole/Cuban descent. Her art has been influenced by her Afro-Latino heritage. Ms. LaRue’s interests has been in Pre-Columbian art of the Olmec, Maya of Mexico, Nazca and Moche face pots of Peru. This also includes the bronze sculptures of the Ife of Nigeria, and Tā Moko tattoo art of the Maōri.

7 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page