The irony that I decided to become a writer in my adult life is not lost on me. When I was in grade school, I had a really difficult time with reading. I was in remedial reading classes up until the 3rd grade. It was the end of the school year and the school decided to hold a Reading Olympics over the summer. The kid from each grade who read the most books would win a gold medal, the one who read the second most would get a silver and so on.
My brother’s teacher came up to me in the hallway one day and asked if I’d be participating. When I told her ‘no’ she asked why, so I explained that I couldn’t read. She challenged me and told me what I should do is start with really simple books. She said I should keep a dictionary next to me and if I came to a word I didn’t know, I should look it up and then read the sentence again. If I still didn’t understand it, read the definition again and keep doing that until the sentence made sense. Then she said to do the same with paragraphs and then with whole pages.
I started the summer reading baby books and by the end of the summer I was reading The Hobbit. What she told me worked and I found my love for reading thanks to her. I read over 150 book, so I was so sure that if I read 150 someone else had to have read more. To my surprise, though, I won the gold medal in my class. In fact, the girl who got the silver medal didn’t even read half as many as I did. It was the first time I had ever won anything. I was so proud of myself and the whole experience gave me such a strong sense of accomplishment. I knew I could do whatever I set my mind to after that.
It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned I was dyslexic, which was why I had so many problems with reading. I’m just glad that I learned to read when I did. If I hadn’t, I don’t know where I would be right now. When my daughter started showing some of the same learning problems I had, it really scared me. I didn’t want her to struggle with learning like I did. So when she still couldn’t read by the time she was half way through grade 1, we took her out of school and started homeschooling her.
I tried teaching her with the same method that I learned, but she struggled with being able to spell or even look up words in the dictionary as well. So instead I found an online program called Reading Eggs and signed her up with that. She was always really good on the computer and loved to play games, so I hoped it would help. Within three months she was reading like a pro. She still has some difficulties with comprehension, but I know as long as we keep reading together and talking about what we read, she will get there.
Reading is really the key to everything in our lives. If we can’t read, learning becomes so much harder. If we can’t learn, being able to find a good job or successful career is so much harder. This is the biggest reason I wanted to become a writer. To me, creating something someone else can read is like creating a learning lifeline. Everyone wants to be a hero in some fashion. I just chose to do it writing. 😀