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Family and Community

Home  >  Family and Community  >  Family Collections  >  Van Dommelen
Not Allowed to Read?
By Amy Crawford

Dorn and Diane moved their family to Alaska seven years ago, where they live in a cabin in Bird Creek. Dorn, 37, has a doctorate in geography and teaches at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), where he is the only full-time geographer and the director of Canadian Studies. Diane, 39, has worked as an editor, a writer and a Waldorf schoolteacher. She now home schools their three children, Lang, Eve and Robin, Waldorf style, with Dorn's assistance.

* * *

Dorn and Eve Van Dommelen
The Van Dommelen children read so much that their father, Dorn, has to say, "Stop reading, you're reading too much, go outside and play! You're not allowed to read anymore!" Of course he is joking, and even makes silly rules like, "No more than one book a day around here!" that everyone laughs at.

Sometimes, his daughter Eve reads so much that her parents can't inspire her to do anything else, even clean her room, and if they disturb her while she's in the middle of a good book, she'll even snap. She laughs when her parents accuse her of this, but Eve knows, "You can never read too much … I learn things from my books." Dorn calls her the "over-reader," concentrating mostly on fiction and Newbury Award winning books. A favorite author is Monica Furlough.

Eve's older brother, Lang, likes to use reading as an escape too, but isn't quite so extreme. He'll take a break from a good book to pick up a pencil and draw, for example.

Diane and Robin Van Dommelen
And although Robin is only two years old, he too is a "bookaholic" says his father. "When Robin was a few months old, we would read to him a little bit, but he wasn't interested at all, and we thought, ‘Oh no! This is terrible!' But then all of the sudden he became obsessed," Diane says. Now he wants to read too.

Diane contests that her children "know amazing things" from books. But if you ask Eve, she'll just say, "I've always liked to read."

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