I have always had a love affair with words, I loved words even before I knew what exactly that meant. I was a precocious child, I could talk before I could walk and I remember reading before I even started going to school or maybe I was just looking at the pretty pictures in my older siblings’ books. I definitely remember reading Grimm’s fairytale classics in kindergarten and that is how I found my way into the rabbit hole of the fantasy world.
By the time I started the first grade I could read faster than I could speak, I had already mastered the art of reading without moving my lips. I was not burdened with the need to read each word out loud, I didn’t even realise it but I had already taken a crucial step into speed reading.
I absolutely hated those class read aloud sessions where each pupil, would stand up and read a sentence out loud, and least because it slowed me down or that I usually ended up pronouncing the words rather garbled up as my mouth tried to catch up with my reading voice.
It didn’t help that I was being made to read primers when I had outgrown them, I mean have you read those books? The sentences are silly, why would anyone say look three times in a sentence and then exclaim oh four times in the very same sentence?
Don’t even get me started at a dog that barked Bow Wow, I mean bow wow really? Our dogs from home did not bark like that.
My first grade teacher must have thought I was some kind of slow learner as she patiently and very hard too, tried teach me “to read” making me point at each word as I read, so that I would not confuse the words together.
Then give me homework to go read a whole three pages to an adult and they would have to sign on a reading marker that I had read the prescribed reading length. Here’s the thing, I had not only read the three pages, I had finished the entire book in the time it took others to flip through the pages and look at the pictures.
I tried to explain this, but I suppose teachers have heard all sorts of excuses from kids who do not want homework so it was just easier to read to my older brother and ask him to sign on the marker. I am fairly sure I might have eventually started doing it for myself when I saw how easy his signature was, and thus begun my journey into the petty thievery some writers commit turning the real into make-believe.
Eventually my teachers must have figured out they were slowing me down, especially after an episode where each student had to write a word they had difficulty pronouncing on the chalkboard. I went and wrote Cheshire and of course they had to ask where I had seen that word and naturally I told the whole class the story of the vanishing cat with the mischievous grin and a girl called Alice lost in a world far from home.
After that I pretty much never got homework reading assignments and I could check out library books just like the older grade pupils and then again maybe not like them either because I eventually got myself acquainted with a dictionary after I realized that some words I had no business knowing, judging from the reactions I got from the people I asked for definitions; either they didn’t know or I shouldn’t know.
A dictionary held answers at the flip of a page and it wasnt just those abridged students dictionaries with watered down definitions, it was a proper dictionary, Longman Dictionary Of Contemporary English the low priced edition.
A dictionary which someone had painstakingly searched and found every “bad word” in it and underlined it in red, I don’t know who or why; neither should you ask why I was looking them up…. but it was an interesting game trying to think of a word and see if it had been highlighted, the dictionary won every single time….
I remember reading Pearls by Celia Brayfield, a six hundred page book when everyone around me was reading Enid Blyton novels, while they read Goosebumps by R. L. Stine, I was reading Stephen King and Dean Koontz, and Scruples by Judith Kranzt because it said on the cover if you loved Pearls you would like it too
Then I had torrid affair with African literature when I discovered Pacesetter novels, they had various stories and themes but what I love most of all was how relatable they were to my everyday world. If I did not read all of them, I went through a significant number and I was sad to discover the series ended before I could add my own volume to it. Funny how someone read something of mine and exclaimed it reminded them of a Pacesetter novel…
As one who grew up in house full of books, sometimes, it seems like the reading culture is dying out..
show me an avid reader and I will show you a writer…
Maybe that is why I write.
A flashback look into my reading journey