Tuesday, August 30, 2011

On learning to read

This is an essay I wrote for copyediting on "my favorite extracurricular activity." Yes, I realize that some paragraphs have fewer than three sentences.  It's very hard to write about one's favorite hobby in 250-300 words.

When I was a little girl, I was so excited to enter first grade. First grade was the grade where the miracle happened: students learn to read. Even before I could read, I loved books. My parents still joke about reading “Big Dog, Little Dog” so many times that they were able to do it in the dark, without the book!

The first day of first grade was a tremendous disappointment. We spent the day doing things like writing our names inside all of our workbooks and taking a tour of the school. We did not learn to read.

Fortunately for me, my mother was also a first grade teacher. I came home from school that day and said, “Teach me to read right now!” My mother insists it took several months for me to learn to read, but in my memory, I could do it within a few weeks.

Because of my mother, I learned to read much faster than my classmates. In fact, I was often in trouble because I was always several pages ahead of the rest of the class.

In second grade, I had a teacher believed that it mattered less what we were reading than the fact that we were reading. He allowed his students to read magazines, comic books, newspapers, and anything else that caught our fancy.

Novels have always been my favorite format for reading. I enjoy the heft of a good solid book, the character development required for 300+ pages of text, and the fact that novels allow me to temporarily escape my own reality. Reading is not just my favorite extracurricular activity, but it is, hands down, my favorite activity. Period.

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