How I Discovered My Love of Reading
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I was a sensitive child. I was an anxious child. I was a fearful child.
My second grade teacher made all that worse. She was a yeller, not a nurturer. Not only that, whenever a student walked up to her desk to turn in a paper, as they turned to walk away she swatted them on the butt.
Maybe that sounds trivial to you all. But back then spanking in schools was allowed. So her swatting ‘every’ student on the butt felt like the equivalent of punishment. She made kids cry from this. She made me cry from this. And then she’d get angry and demand to know why we were upset.
I was terrified of her. I started backing away from her when I turned in my papers so she couldn’t reach my back side. Still she just plain scared me. Her classroom rule was that after you handed in your paper, you had to lay your head down on your desk until she told you to raise it. I remember burying my face in my arms and crying because I was so miserable. I cried every day.
And then I missed a day of school because I was sick. The standard used to be that the second grade was when we first started learning to read. My teacher called us into the reading circle. She had a book that we passed around and each of us was supposed to read the next word in the sentence. It came to me and I had the word ‘as’.
I stopped. Didn’t speak.
My teacher said, “Sound it out.”
I knew what sound an ‘a’ made and I knew what sound an ‘s’ made. In my mind it sounded like ‘ass’and I knew ass was a very bad word. I was already petrified of my teacher—there was no way I was going to say ‘ass’ in front of her.
“We just learned this yesterday.”
“I wasn’t here yesterday.” It took a ton of courage just to say that.
“That doesn’t matter. You should be able to sound it out.”
Oh, I could sound it out and I didn’t know why she’d want me to say ‘ass’ out loud. Was this some trick? Like how she spanked us for turning in a paper. Was she trying to get me to say a bad word so she could punish me?
“Sound it out. Sound it out. Sound it out.” Over and over she kept saying those words. “You should know this. It’s easy.”
I didn’t utter a peep.
After that episode I got sent to the slow reader’s class.
It was one of the best things to ever happen to me!
The teacher of the slow reader’s class was nice and nurturing. Pretty quickly she realized I didn’t have a reading disorder and discussed sending me back to my normal class. I begged her to keep me there. Begged her. And Mrs. Knickle kept me in the slow reader’s class all school year, despite me not being a slow reader. Thank You Mrs. Knickle! Being able to leave my normal class and go to Mrs. Knickle’s room every day made school bearable.
It wasn’t like Mrs. Knickle didn’t make me work. She fed me books and I ate them up. That slow readers class is where I discovered that I loved books. I learned that books were a great escape from my anxiety and fear. I didn’t feel bad while I was reading. By the time the school year was over I was reading a sixth grade level and wanted to be a writer!
And that moment when I learned that ‘as’ wasn’t pronounced ‘ass’… Best mistake I’ve ever made!
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Abbie Roads writes dark emotional novels featuring damaged characters, but always gives her hero and heroine a happy ending… after torturing them for three hundred pages. RACE THE DARKNESS and HUNT THE DAWN are available now! SAVING MERCY is available for pre-order.