A Struggling Reader's Experience

My very first memory of reading was when I was 5 years old.

I was sitting in my living room and we had all of our family over the house for Thanksgiving.

I brought out a book and I asked my mom to teach me how to read.

Well, I bet you can imagine, she was a little bit busy that day and she said, “no.”

I didn’t give up there.

I went on to my cousin Cathy and asked her to teach me to read.

She was 5 years older than me and she had the same response as my mom.

I was heartbroken that no one would teach me how to read.

So, I longingly looked at the words in the book wishing that they would somehow jump off of the page and into my brain so that I could hear the story that was written.

No one really ever read to me, so I didn’t know that this was an option.

All I knew was that the words on that page conveyed a story and I wanted to know it.

I would like to tell you that I kept asking and found someone that would help me learn how to read, but I gave up that day.

My mom saw how much I loved stories and eventually she got my some books on tape.

Yes, they were tapes back in those days.

She must have signed up for a Disney subscription because I remember Sleeping Beauty and Brer Rabbit very clearly.

When I began learning how to read in school everyone was ahead of me.

I was in the lowest reading group, the Blue Jays, and I knew it.

All I wanted more than anything in the world was to become a better reader. I mean, didn’t these people know what I was going to do for the rest of my life? Didn’t they know that one day I would own my own e tutoring company and that I just wanted to get a head start? Apparently I knew my calling from a very early age, everyone else just was not on the same page as me.

I remember when we would have to read out loud in class in round robin style. When I would read out loud, I didn’t sound like the other kids. The teacher would give me advice about making my voice go up and down in front of all the other kids. The other kids never got this kind of advice and this made feel more self-conscious about my reading. Back then they didn’t have reading fluency interventions. So I felt like there was something wrong with me.

As school continued I scored poorly on the state tests and continued to get put in the lowest reading group.

I remember in 6th grade kids started to take a foreign language, but because of my reading comprehension scores I was denied this and put in another reading program for struggling readers.

I felt less than, devalued, and diminished.

Even the kids in the reading class made fun of me.

I felt stupid and worthless.

I continued on my middle school years this way, which were some of the toughest days of my life.

One day a teacher at a parent/teacher conference suggested to my mom that she read with me.

My mom took her up on this suggestion and began reading Anne of Green Gables.

She would read a page and then I would read a page. This was my most prized memory of reading with my mom. It built a feeling of being loved and accepted all while being immersed in Anne’s world in Canada.

I found out later on in life that my dad’s whole family came from Prince Edward Island where the story took place.