The Boy Who Showed Us That Reading Is A Medicine

The purpose of this article is to pay a small tribute to Rubén Darío Ávalos. This Paraguayan boy died at the age of twelve in Seville from a strange condition called histiocytosis. This little angel wrote stories and also read the writings of Plato. He tried to forget his illness. Rubén’s existence was actually a miracle. His name was always on the lips of the health experts and volunteers of the Spanish Association Against Cancer. This organization supports children and their families in the pediatric oncology department. So his whole life is a testimony to the fact that reading is a medicine.

Rubén also published four books of stories and a historical novel. Here they are:

  • Encounters with Rubén  (2015),
  • The Sense of Purity  (2015),
  • The Letters and Other Unpredictable Stories  (2016),
  • The Main Medicine  (2016)
  • The Tiara  (2017).

Because Rubén Darío Ávalos lacked defense mechanisms, he found his salvation in books.

Now that Rubén has passed away, I think those who need to know his amazing stories should not just be other children like him. But also young people and adults who experience the same should get acquainted with this story. Rubén fought against all adversities thanks to reading books, the comfort of writing and his enthusiasm to learn.

The child who didn’t have to grow up to be an adult

During an interview in 2015, Rubén told how reading saved him. In that interview, he explained how reading and writing were a lifesaver for him to deal with his illness. Because the disease was diagnosed late, it became chronic. He had to undergo chemotherapy for the rest of his life.

Rubén believed that reading is a medicine. The books he loved were:

  • “A Hundred Years of Solitude”
  • “Platero and me”
  • “Pascual Duarte’s family”
  • “The president”
  • “The Metamorphosis”
  • “Treasure Island”
  • “Son of men”
  • “Fictions”
  • “Around the World in 80 Days” 
  • “War of the Worlds” 

Because of so much variety in what he read, his own novels and stories don’t have a specific style. Every story he has made up is completely different.

He loved reading so much because it gave him the opportunity to immerse himself in other worlds. In those worlds he traveled to other places and other times. He got to know other people and made new friends. This precocious writer collected the stories he had written at different ages, from the age of two to twelve. He didn’t have to grow up to be an adult. His legacy of words and power will live on in his books.

That reading is a medicine

Rubén showed us that reading is a medicine

To create his characters, Rubén found inspiration in the people he met. He encountered them in his dreams, in the books he had read or, for example, just in his imagination. He always tried to give them a very well defined personality and to make their lives a message. In general, he presented their virtues as well as their shortcomings. He showed how these flaws can also become part of our box of virtues, if we work on them. He nurtured the self-confidence of brave people and gave them the determination to live that way.

The historical novel he wrote was all about animal abuse and bullying. His favorite work is “The Best Medicine of All”. He believed that reading is medicine for the soul, hence the name of the book. He wrote the stories in this book at different ages (two, four, six, eight, ten years and beyond). So each idea came about in a different way.

He used the publication of these short story books to pay for part of his stay in Seville, where he received treatment. His philosophy in life was that we should always see the bright side of things. It doesn’t matter how bad the situation is. Our mission is to see the bright side and be thankful for it. So remember that reading is medicine.

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