Sunday, January 25, 2015

Do you ever think back to when you first started reading; when your love of books began?

I think I started trying to read before I was even taught to read. I remember two specific events. I don't remember which came first; my first "reader" or the desire to learn what was in those books besides the pictures.

At about age 4, my mother presented a book to me saying we were going to learn to read. Has anyone else ever seen this book?  McGuffey's First Electic Reader or Eclectic Primer. This book was first published in the late 1800's. It has great old pen and ink drawings. Simple short sentences tell a story and the phonetics are listed on each page. I had that book forever. But forever came and went and I don't know what happened to it.  BUT I serendipitously came across a copy of the book and I now have it in my personal library.

The second event that I remember that showed my desire to read,  happened around the same time. Once in awhile, I would go stay with one of my cousins on their farm. It must have been a week night this time, because in the morning I went to school with him. Now for whatever reason, he attended school in an old fashioned one room school house in the country. Of course, I didn't think anything of it at the time and didn't wonder why this was the school the kids in the country attended still in the early 1960's. It was reading circle time. Back then, kids would bring their chairs in a circle according to age and would take turn reading out loud. My cousin must have been 6 or 7. Again I was 4. I was looking on with him in his book. Someone was reading the page and was really struggling with the words. I felt like I was trying just as hard to figure it out. I really wanted to help this student and I was sure I could do it. I was studying the pictures on the page to help find a clue to the words. It was a snow scene with a child  in the snow. I suddenly had it. I knew the word. I looked at that student as a teach would, very seriously and matter of factly and said "shovel!". Well the word wasn't shovel after all. But I was so determined to read that page that I gave it a try. And I remember this because I was quickly embarrassed when someone snickered. :)

I learned to read before I started school. I guess most kids do now. We went to the school library every week and checked out a book. I was ahead in my "reading grade". I checked out as many books as we were allowed all through elementary school. When school was out, I went to the public library every week and checked out the limit. When the public library wasn't within walking distance, I waited for the Book Mobile every week. Even in "junior high" I frequented the school library. Unusual for a preteen.  Once I was in high school I didn't go to the library to check out books. In fact  high school freshman English almost ruined reading for pleasure for me.  But, oh joy, my mother subscribed to Book of the Month Club and Readers Digest Condensed. I did get in trouble a few times for opening those boxes before she did because she hadn't intended to keep that month's selection and now she had to keep it.

Oh to be able to spend as much time reading as I did when I was a child....

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