Raise-a-Reader Day 2014: “How I Learned to Read”

Book cover for "Danny and the Dinosaur" by Syd Hoff.

Hello everyone!

Today is Raise-a-Reader day here in Canada, and I thought I would share with you all the story of how I learned to read. (Plus, later on today we have a guest post from my mom on the subject!)

A long long time ago, right here in this very galaxy and on this very planet, in a little village called Belcarra, my mom and my nanny Liza were trying to get me to read on my own and they were feeling rather disheartened.

Perhaps some background is needed.

An even longer time ago, my mom was a young girl living in Alberta. Her parents refused to teach her how to read, even though she was ready for it at an early age. According to Oma, Mom could read out signs in Dutch at two years old. English was another matter. Finally when she attended first grade she learned to read, and then there was no stopping her. As soon as she could she acquired a children’s library card. She read through the entire library in short order, and then she wanted to move onto the adult library — but they wouldn’t let her. She was too young. She was also very mad.

This was also the girl who had to work through an adult-level grammar book as punishment from the teacher. She had never been happier.

My mom was a bit of a child prodigy when it comes to reading and English in general. Literacy came fast and easy for her, and she was a voracious reader early on. Later, she ended up teaching English herself, and she continues to educate kids to this day.

Literacy did not come so easy for me. I spoke at an early age, earlier than most children, but reading continued to elude me aside from shouting out “Car wash!” or “Save on Foods!” as our car zipped by these instalments on Vancouver’s busy streets. I could see the words. I had a huge vocabulary. But books? They were such a struggle. Mom started to fear I would never read with ease, that I would never share her passion for books, no matter how many hours she or Liza spent helping me.

That is, until this lovable reptile and his human friend came along:

Book cover for "Danny and the Dinosaur" by Syd Hoff.

I don’t know what it was, but as soon as Mom put Danny and the Dinosaur into my hands, something clicked. Suddenly reading was no longer an insurmountable challenge for me. I went from getting a little bit of help from her or Liza to reading the book all by myself in no time. And then I reread it several times.

Danny and the Dinosaur will always have a special place in my heart, because it’s the first book I read all by myself, and it’s what helped spark a lifelong love of reading. After Danny came many other books, too numerous to name. I read them all. I read whatever I could get my hands on.

These days my busy adult life gives me less time for reading, which makes me sad. But I’m still a reader, and I still adore books. My house is full of them — nearly a thousand, to be exact. And though I may no longer be able to devote entire days to reading, I still read as much and as often as I can.

All because of the persistence of my mom and nanny, and a little kid and his dinosaur pal.

-Katje

What book launched a lifelong love of reading for you or your child?

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