I don’t remember learning to read, but I do remember when I became so interested in the story, as the teacher called on one after another child to read.
When she called on me to read, I had no idea of what page the class were reading from. After so many times of ‘See Spot run!’, I was hooked!
I so enjoyed following the words of the hymns with Dad seated on the back row of the church in Clinton, Oklahoma. It was such fun to see the words march by to a rhythm.
Then came the day when I began walking downtown to the public library… by myself. Each time I performed a mission of discovery.
First of all, shelf, after shelf of books, how could I choose just one? I soon discovered I had to look for several items.
Is the cover is worn by many hands holding it?
Are there lots of quotation marks in the book?
Are the last words of the book lived happily ever after?
I knew that a worn cover means lots of readers loved the story. The quotation marks mean there is action, and not just description. I have a personality that means I am optimistic, upbeat, and prefer to avoid conflicts and negatives in my life. That takes care of the lived happily ever after.
I remember Mom talking to me about Pollyanna. She must have read the book, a 1913 novel by Eleanor Porter. Pollyanna practiced being cheerful and optimistic! It was a way of life. I wasn’t sure why she told me about the book.
Loving the Happily Ever After endings of the story must have been a forerunner of the Hallmark videos now. So much more fun to read and see what is waiting when we turn the page!
One thing is getting ready to read and how is it most comfortable. There were three ways. Lying on the floor, elbows propped was the first comfortable way. Mother told me once, “Your elbows were always dirty until you were sixteen years old.”
Then I learned subterfuge type of reading. Dad and Mom needed naps on Sunday afternoons, so I learned to read rose-colored pages as I hid below my pink bedspread. I listened for footsteps in the hall. One day, wanting to be obedient, I asked Mom, “Can God see through the bedspread?” She confirmed He could. “Busted!”
Then I learned the shelf in my closet could hold the book, and until I became too sleepy, I read in my closet, with the light on!
Saturdays were difficult. We ‘wasted’ so much time cleaning I couldn’t read. One day it dawned on me. Since Mother insisted that I clean my hardwood floor on my hands and knees with a dust rag. Suddenly I invented a short-lived way of reading on Saturday. Then I heard Mom’s voice, “Susie, are you reading?” How did she know? From then on, she hid my current book on Saturday morning. I didn’t get my book back until the work was completed.
I noticed as I read, the closer to the end of the book, the slower I read to make the book last longer. I hated to part with each book, it seemed as if I was saying goodbye to a dear friend.
While teaching sixth graders, and I found a student wanting to read rather than do the assignment, I was more lenient, because I remembered the longing to read. While teaching the second grade, I had ‘free reading’. The students could enjoy reading for 30 minutes, and it was free in that they could read any place in the room the chose. I didn’t see it coming, but one boy chose to be under my desk. I realized it, with a yelp when he bit my big toe. Then I began to question the gift of freedom!!!
Slowly my choice of reading has changed through the years. Now I prefer to study the Bible and learn about the gift of Eternal Life and how God loves us. The mystery of strength and power to resist temptation and learn about the One and Only Son of God Who knows how to give us the joy of His Peace. He forgives us and gives us Hope.
The Bible is truly the Happily Ever After book with lasting import for each day.
No, I don’t remember the childhood books I read, but they were like an arrow pointing the way to The Book I will never forget!