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When did you learn to read?

I’m not talking about “see Jane run,” but that kind of reading where you were really reading – enjoying it, getting lost in the story.

When I was in first grade we had a few weeks long reading competition. You wrote the title and author of every book you read during that time on a sheet. Each student had a sheet and they were taped to the wall in the classroom. The student with the most books at the end of the competition won a prize. Some students filled up multiple sheets of paper with the books. I had four. In the weeks of this competition I’d read four measly books. I have a vivid memory of the teacher checking to see if that was my second sheet, noting that it wasn’t, and giving me a very demeaning look.

I never did like that teacher. I still don’t. Learning in her class was not fun. She didn’t like me, I have no clue why. I was a quiet, shy, attentive 6-year old (7-year old?). What’s not to like? I hated reading when I was in her class.

I wish I could come across her again one day. I’d probably be really immature and smug about it, but she did not do anything memorable to foster my education. Quite the opposite, in fact.

It was in 4th grade when I really learned to read. My teacher – Mr. Moquin (still one of my all-time favorite teachers) – suggested The Hobbit as free reading. HO-LEE-SHIT. I did not know what I’d been missing. Soon after that, I was reading whatever I could get my hands on. I was galloping through Narnia, living in a boxcar, hiding in a cupboard with Indians. Always with my nose in a book – even under the covers with a flashlight (my eyesight does not thank me for that one).

It’s been an awesome journey. One that I’m very happy I was encouraged to begin. In fact – do you ever get that itch? You’re at work, or somewhere else equally boring, and all the sudden all you want to do is get lost in a good story? Right now, yea, I have that itch – it’s a good one to have, in my opinion.

What’s your reading story?

Was there a book, person, or event that sent you down the wonderful, endless path of bookishness?