Reading aloud, terrible repercussion of

This post was written by Friday blogger Annie Reid.

Last week, I wrote a bit about the pleasures of reading aloud.

I realized that there was another way my mother influenced me by reading out loud to me when I was very young. I came to associate books with magical worlds, with interesting British children, and, even at that tender age, a kind of power.

I was five years old, and it was another tough day in kindergarden. Our teacher (whose name I unfairly and quite improbably remember as being “Mrs. Nasty”) culled a small group of ten of us from the rest. We — the quiet types, I noticed immediately — had a choice, she said. We could either stay back in the classroom and share some sort of activity together, or we could go to the gymnasium with the rest of the class. Racing around with a red rubber ball and slinging it at high speed at the other kids sounded a lot more fun than sitting at that little round table, being lulled into a hypnotic state by the smell of Elmer’s paste, for another minute, so I opted out. But a half hour later, we came back and the secret lesson was revealed to be: the very first reading lesson. To this day, I can still conjure up my tiny rage. To be denied entry into the world of Jane and Dick and Spot was the most unfair thing I could imagine, and I glowered all week at their little red readers until it came time for the rest of us. I resented it for years. None of the other kids seemed to care, but my mother had already shown me how delightful and powerful those strange marks on paper were, and I wanted more of it.


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