Little Red Reading Hood

By Sandra Mann

Once upon a time there was a little red-head who loved to read. She would lie on her pink chiffon bedspread and go through book after book. Her fondest dream was to own a private library with thousands of books. A place where she could read all day and her mother would bring her grilled cheese sandwiches on a silver platter for lunch. Of course, this little girl would not have been me.

I hated reading when I was a child. During elementary school I was placed in a remedial reading class. Even though the teachers were very supportive, I soon realized that I wasn’t able to read like most of my class-mates. My mother worked with me at home for hours to try and help. Finally in the sixth grade, after my yearly reading/comprehension testing, I was told that my problems did not relate to understanding words, I just read slowly. Reading out loud was hard for me also and I struggled when everyone had to read aloud in class. It seemed that I had marbles in my mouth compared to my class-mates.

My reading situation did not change as I became a teenager. Discouragement and frustration were commonplace. When there was reading homework for a class, often I just couldn’t finish before it was due. None of my friends had this problem; they were all honor students and could finish their assignments and have time to read a good book of their own choosing. Not fair! I loved to learn and I wasn’t stupid so why was this so hard for me!

My mother told me something when I was in high school that changed my perspective. She told me I read like my father. Now my dad was (and still is) one of the smartest people I knew. He could solve problems in his head that most people need a computer for. And I read like him? She reminded me of the people that she had met that couldn’t read at all and how limiting this could be for them.

My focus began changing. I was like my dad who was an amazing person to me. I had been blessed with great parents who helped me, the chance to go to school and gain an education and even an abundance of books to read any time I wanted. My eyes were open to new possibilities. As I compared my life to those like me and others who did not have my blessings, I felt a desire to be worthy of all I had been given. From that time on, I have worked harder on improving my gift of reading.

When asked about my hobbies reading is now on my list. I read all the time. I have read aloud to my children from the time they were babies and don’t sound as though I have marbles in my mouth. I still read slower then most. My son and I have a running joke about it. He will get a book and finish reading it in a day and then give it to me so I can read it for about a week. I tell him I get to enjoy it longer. This new attitude does not eliminate my challenges, it gives me courage to overcome as much as I can and gain strength by doing so. With this new outlook and love of reading, I’m much closer to living happily ever after.

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Sandra Mann
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