One of the first ever pieces of literature that affected me was a children’s book. No surprise there, those are every child’s starting point.
But this was different.
When I was young it took me a long while to learn how to read, I remember one day coming into my first-grade class after a short leave of absence due to being sick. After I had sat down and the class had started, we all were handed a piece of paper. I had no clue what it had said.
If I remember correctly it was something we were supposed to color in, but the only problem was there were words to tell you what to color with which crayon.
Something I know is fact, is that all the other children had started on it, but I just sat there. I had no idea what to do, I stared at that page for a long while with tears in my eyes, trying so hard to not be heard crying.
after that day I loathed reading, I never wanted to. I could read the names of TV shows I liked, that was fine. But try to get me to read a small phrase from a book? I would nearly throw a tantrum. But that changed with a single book.
This was a book many had as a kid and may still be in the hearts of the readers. But to me? This book about a small bear just trying so hard to find that button made me want to read after hating it for so long.
When my Mom and I had first sat down to read it, she had me read it out loud to her. I knew a lot of the smaller words, mostly the bare-minimum. But every time we came to a word I didn’t know, she’d have me sound it out.
It frustrated me to the point of crying some nights.
I hated it, I wanted to know the story so bad, but my own stupidity couldn’t let me understand half of the page!
I hated having to sound out each word, the syllable after syllable why of reading, after getting each syllable right I’d have to read them faster and slowly put the word together. This took many and many tries.
My speech and use of grammar were pretty good back then, I could hold conversations well, and new many words a child of my age would not have known in normal circumstances.
But these syllables were torture to me. I’d try so hard to put them all together properly, but it always sounded wrong. My Mom would have to correct me and I’d always feel like a dunce.
I remember getting stuck on one word every time we read the story “department store.” Oh how I had hated that word. We’d have multiple nights between reading the story and I’d have to start from the beginning all over again.
But that one word haunted me, department store, department store! Why could I not get it? It was a terrifying word to me, it was long and tough to pronounce, even with my speech therapy.
My Mom wouldn’t give me the answer either, I thought my Mom was being mean at the time, but looking back on it, she’s the biggest reason I got it, why I started to want to read.
I had continued to try this one night, over and over, repeating the syllables until finally, I got it. I said it. department store. I started to say it faster and faster. I was ecstatic.
I got it! I read it!
I thought over and over, as my mom congratulated me. I remember the joy in my heart as we continued reading, for the first time since we had first started reading the book, I was happy to read it. We had even finished it that night.
It had made me cry for a different reason that night, it was from the story itself and not the frustration that boiled within me.
That was the first time I had realized I thought I was dumb, but over came the thought with the help of my Mom and this story. I’ve loved reading ever since.
Thank you Mom for not giving me the answer. It made the reward of getting it that much sweeter. And thank you for not thinking I was dumb.