Blog: Learning to Read

Christine Alfery

Posted on June 29 2020

Blog: Learning to Read
Featured image: Stars in the Night

I wonder if the ability to imagine is genetic or taught?  Nature or nurture?
As a little girl my dad didn’t read me a book at bedtime but rather he would tell me a story, an imaginative story. Sometimes the story would go on for months – and sometimes he had me or my sister tell part of the story. These stories never followed a preplanned script – they were pure imagination.   

Experts say it is good to read a bed time story – it teaches children that reading is important. We never had any books as children, my family could not afford them - which is probably why my dad made up bedtime stories. 

I personally didn’t really learn how to read until the third grade. At first I did alright, but once there were no longer illustrations to go with the words, I became lost. In my grade school reading groups were hierarchical, the best readers were in group one and the readers who were having trouble were in group three or four depending on how bad they were. I was always in the last group. 

When it was my turn to read aloud in my reading group, I resorted to making up a story to go with what the others were reading. I remember the snickers and chuckles from my classmates as the teacher would prompt me to figure out a word and waited patiently as I struggled. I had no idea. 

I wonder if the fact that I had no books at home is related to my inability to read like the others. I do know I struggled. To this day I don’t regret the struggle – it made me a stronger person. You see not only did I eventually learn how to read, but I also knew how to imagine which many of the other students had no idea how to do.   I was able to both. I eventually found a balance between the two. 
Magic Carpet Ride by Christine Alfery
Magic Carpet Ride by Christine Alfery

If I had not struggled, if my dad had not taught me how to imagine, I wonder if I would be an artist today.  

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