Scars and Stories: How I Learned to Read (Though Sheer Stubborness)

Intro:

Every book blogger has a story of how they got into reading or what book insinuated the love of reading in them. This is my story, except my “learning to love to read” story is also my “literally learning to read story”.

Story Time:

Every kindergartener in America starts reading by learning sight words, and by the time they get to first grade they can read picture books on their own. Right?

Well, I went to a private school from preschool until first grade, and they were more math than reading oriented. Reading was basically something that was used to understand the directions on worksheets and that’s it. We didn’t actually read books. I don’t think I read a book until the second grade. That is when I really learned to read. (I mean, I’m pretty sure I read picture books and stuff. But not much else.)

Now, I had an amazing teacher in second grade. I was ahead in everything but reading compared to my class. I went from my slightly advanced private school to an inclusive class (by the fourth quarter they switched me to Gifted – yes, most of the way through the year) to put things in perspective. I went from a first grade reading level to sixth grade level by the end of the year with her. I was at a college reading level by the end of third grade.

The first chapter book I read? Harry Potter.

Sounds crazy? Well, I was a stubborn child (I still am).

I watched the first four movies and was dying to know what happened, so seven year old me decided she wanted to read the books. Didn’t matter that I could just barely read Magic Tree House on my own, I was determined. The school library wouldn’t let me check out the books, but my grandma bought me the boxed set for my birthday/christmas (something around there – this was a decade ago give me a break).

Mind you, I struggled greatly. And Harry Potter was interpreted with listening to the first book on audio to help me out (which we soon learned I wasn’t all that thrilled with – I hate audiobooks, I would literally fall asleep), as well as Cornelia Funke’s books, and stuff  like Series of Unfortunate Events (which I read out of order because at 7 I did not yet really understand the concept of series being in a particular order).

Eventually, I stubborned my way through all the Harry Potter books in a little over a year. My dad used to have to help me read words like “chandelier” but I could read things like “ectoplasm” just fine. I think I confused him.

My reading ability couldn’t be attributed just to Harry Potter – though it was my primary motivation to wanting to. I also had a thing where I liked having subtitles on TV shows  – mind you, I was the kind of kid that was so obsessed with Pokemon, I’d watch the newest movie in Japanese with English subtitles because I couldn’t wait the six months for a Dubbed release.

This Pokemon obsession was the other motivation behind wanting to learn to read – beginning even before the Harry Potter one. I was really into playing Pokemon Channel on the GameCube and Pokemon Leafgreen on the game boy – but Pokemon games are pretty dependent on reading, so I’d have to wait for my dad to help me out (I was 3/4/5 okay?). So, literally, I wanted to learn to read so I could lay Pokemon on my own. I’m pretty sure my first sight words were things like “Pikachu used Thundershock” or something.

After:

Mind you, my stubbornness over reading didn’t end once I’d mastered it. I tried to read Pride and Prejudice when I was 8 (I got bored and read Holly Black and Rick Riordan instead but still – I got a ways through it).

When I was 9, I read all the Twilight books – despite being told repeatedly I was too young and even getting my book confiscated so the teacher could confirm with my mother that I was permitted to read it. I probably would have stopped after the second book because I was, well 9, and a lot went over my head. But I was told I shouldn’t/couldn’t so I finished them. And liked. And started a shipping war among the nine-year-olds once the movie came out and we all begged to see it. Yeah, I was that kid.

I read Hunger Games in fifth grade and gave my dad a heart attack by sobbing hysterically in the car when Rue died – and loudly scream/begging for the next book – despite him beginning to think it was a mistake to let his 10 year old read such violence.

By my last semester of fifth grade, I’d literally run out of books grade level or higher in the ENTIRE SCHOOL LIBRARY to read. Not ones that interested me. All of them. I can’t name beyond about 20 or so favorites that I read through all of elementary school (10 Ways to Make My Sister Disappear, Regarding The Fountain, Awful End, Ghosthunters, Heir Apparent, Companions Quartet, Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark, The Girl Who Could Fly, Inkheart, Amber Brown, Ramona and Beezus, Suddenly Supernatural, Molly Moon, Peter and the Starcatachers, The Magic Half, Scat, Etc.). My teacher had to allow me to read below grade level books so I could reach my minimum for a grade. Yeah, it was pretty insane. I sat for an hour with a stack of picture books, reading and taking AR tests for .5 points each until I got what I needed.

I was the kid who got in trouble for reading under the desk a lot. I once got grounded from reading and was told to watch TV because I was being a smart mouth (my dad told me to do the dishes, and I said child labor was illegal…and continued arguing this point for a while – I was like, 8).

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