Monday, June 10, 2013

Inspiring: A review of Hot Dogs & Hamburgers

Imagine not being able to read or write.  How would you fill out an employment application or a medical form?  How could you help your child with his homework or read the instructions on a medicine bottle? 

People who struggle with literacy issues don't usually volunteer that information to anyone.  Many devise ingenious ways to hide their lack of reading and writing skills from everyone, including family and friends.  They are smart, intelligent, productive, successful adults who want to do some of the things the rest of us take for granted.  They want to be able to read their Bibles, or bedtime stories to their children or grandchildren.  They want to get their high school diplomas, better jobs, or start a company using their unique skills, but all of that is beyond their reach. 

Rob Shindler knows some people just like this and his book Hot Dogs & Hamburgers: Unlocking Life's Potential by Inspiring Literacy at Any Age will give you a glimpse into their world and their literacy journey.       

At a very early age, Rob Shindler's son, Oliver, had a "situation."  That's how the preschool teacher put it.  That "situation" was a learning disability.  First there was the shock and then the wish to disappear, which Rob did for a while.  He didn't actually leave, he just checked out when it came to dealing with the dreaded "situation."  His wife took up the slack and that was okay with Rob... but not for long.

When he decided to reappear, Rob took it upon himself to teach Oliver to read.  Maybe the closet wasn't the best place to hold class, but it was quiet in there and there would be no distractions... or at least that's what Rob thought.  After a few tries this dad, who didn't want to quit on the child he loved with every ounce of his being, realized they were going nowhere fast.

What Rob needed in order to teach his son to read was for someone to teach him how to teach his son to read. 

(You may have to read that sentence again.  I know I did!) 

That would appear to be a selfish reason to volunteer as a tutor at Literacy Chicago, but in fact it turned out to be a selfless act that Rob would see duplicated by his son at the moment when he needed it most. 

Rob's sense of humor and talent for storytelling makes Hot Dogs & Hamburgers a great read.  You will most definitely feel every emotion, and one thing's for sure, you'll be glad you picked up this inspiring book!  Unique and colorful characters surround Rob at home, and in the Literacy Chicago office and classroom.  And when it comes to writing about himself Rob tells it like it is, warts and all.  And how can you not love a dad who just wants the best for his son; a dad who, in the end, brought out the best in his son and those whose lives he touched through tutoring?

When you finish this book you'll want to run to your local literacy initiative and sign up to tutor. As a former adult literacy tutor, I can tell you that you will be rewarded beyond belief for your service.  Don't be surprised if you learn as much from your students as they do from you--possibly even more.

Thank you, Rob, for sending me a copy of your wonderful book.  I enjoyed getting to know you, your family, and your students immensely.  They are very lucky to have you and I'm sure you already know how blessed you are to have them!   

Until next time... stay cool!


Learn more about Rob Shindler and Hot Dogs & Hamburgers: Unlocking Life's Potential by Inspiring Literacy at Any Age. 

While you're on Rob's website, click on the "Buy it forward" link and enter the coupon code dogood4 to buy the book for a special price.  Rob is also donating $4 from the sale of each book to my special charity, Wounded Warrior Project, when you use that coupon code.


  1. What a fantastic sounding book Martha. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. Cheers Julie Grasso

  2. Hi Julie, thanks for swinging by. Rob truly is a great storyteller and the book is fantastic!