How many of us remember learning to read? Wasn’t it magical? It unlocked a whole world for us—the world of the written word.
Do you remember the first time you saw the letters C-A-T and realized it was the word “cat”? Or D-O-G? “Dog”? Do you remember the first time you read a whole sentence, even if it was as short as “See Spot run”?
Our school didn’t “see Spot run.” We didn’t use the Dick and Jane books. Instead, our school used the Alice and Jerry series. Their dog was named Gyp. (Today, the name “Gyp” might be classed as politically incorrect.)
I quickly advanced through the Alice and Jerry series and began tackling the books I had at home that, previously, my mom had read aloud to me. What a feeling of accomplishment…of power…of independence! The world was at my fingertips! I could read…and I didn’t need an intermediary reading to me, deciphering the words for me. I could do it myself!
Do you remember when YOU first learned to read? Do you remember feeling you could now conquer a large corner of the world? The mysteries, the secrets, the knowledge locked up in all the books of the world—or at least those in English—would now be revealed to you.
When it came to books, my parents indulged me, at least within the limits of their financial capabilities. Reading was a commendable hobby, not to mention a path to the college education they aspired to for me.
At the start of my third-grade year, a cousin who was a teacher gave me a sixth-grade reader. I devoured it voraciously…and moved on to reading even more advanced tomes. There was no stopping me now!
My progress in reading ability was not without its missteps, though, I hasten to add. Early on, my mother had bought me a book called MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS. One line read, “The penguins forgot their discipline.” Although I knew the word “discipline” when I heard it, I didn’t recognize it when I saw it in print, read it as “dis-skip-line,” and wondered what it meant. Then there was a book called THE SILVER BRACELET. I misread “bracelet” as “brak-let.” I wondered what that meant, too. But overall my reading ability and comprehension levels were high.
Back in first grade, Miss Snell had me help her go around the room and listen to the different kids read, then report to her on each one’s progress. This didn’t exactly endear me to my classmates! I was off to a good start in reading but off to a bad start in making friends.
Nevertheless, once I learned to read the world was mine!