Do you remember when you were introduced to reading? How as you learned the alphabet, you could read and write words. Taking it even further, when words strung together could tell someone your thoughts without even speaking a word? I remember sitting in kindergarten class learning my ABC’s, seeing those letters in words and understanding that this was something I wanted to know. I sat day after day as I watched the other kids learn to read. They could see spot run and do something more than look at pictures imagining what was being said.
I asked my teacher to teach me reading. The response came back that I would be taught to read when they thought I needed to be taught. The other students learned to read around me while I stayed behind, illiterate, stifled, frustrated. The class trips to the library painful and embarrassing. Other kids read out the titles and I had to ask what was on the covers. I felt stupid. I wondered if I would ever be able to read. I worried that I may not be capable of learning to read. They made me feel abnormal.
Kindergarten went by, my parents fought the teachers, but the school refused to aid in my reading. My mom, dad, and older brother took it upon themselves to soothe my angst and taught me words and I could read the comic books of my older brother. It was with a great deal of anger and arguing that my parents brought to bear on the teachers, superintendent, and principal, that in first grade the school capitulated and began to include me in the reading curriculum.
I started at the beginning readers half-way through the school year, weeks later I had burned through the SRA Reading Laboratory readers and exhausted them all. I loved reading. The prevention by the school of allowing me to read never made sense to me. When a child burns for knowledge and yearns for learning you should always fan the flames, not douse them to smoke. The hindrance and obstacles to reading for me only steepened the desire to taste the forbidden, to see past my ignorance and burn the doubts the hid the written word from me.
Like most things I love, I fought to obtain it, reading is a blessing and forgetting the struggle to find my way to it will never happen. A battle worth fighting is lighting the torch for others and finding ways to take the kindling to a bonfire.