In a time not so long ago a young boy was enrolled in first grade. Just to say that he was young would not establish the meaning of this story. This young boy’s birthday was the 27th day of the 12th month of the year. This made him the youngest in the first grade. He had not attended pre-school nor kindergarten but there he was in first grade beginning a yearly learning cycle that would continue throughout his elementary school years. Each year, as he started in a new grade, the teacher would ask: “How did he get here?” From fall until spring he struggled through. Each year he would show some improvement and he would be passed on to the next grade where the new teacher would once again ask: “How did he get here?” To compound the problem further, he had four brothers who preceded him through the same grades with some of the same teachers. They had all done very well.
How he dreaded the reading time. It was round-robin oral reading that was his greatest fear. Each pupil would be asked to read a paragraph. The young boy would not be listening to the other readers because he was busy counting down to see which paragraph would be his. Oh no! it was the longest one on the next page. What is that third word in the first sentence? He had e-n-o-u-g-h… He turned to Helen who sat behind him. They had worked out a system. He would point to a word and she would whisper the answer. She said “enuf””. Where did that “f” sound come from? To call him a reluctant reader is an understatement. To say he was a “hater” of reading was more to the point.
He struggled through the grades with reading but did pretty well in geography, history and arithmetic. Did I mention that he was a terrible speller?
Did he survive school? Well, yes. In the eighth grade he did something he remembers to this day. A family friend, Violet B. gave him his first novel and said that she believed he could read it and he did.
Years later when he related this story to his daughter and granddaughters they searched the “web” and they found a man in Texas who had the book listed for sale. They bought it and surprised your story teller with his first reading achievement “The Bishop’s Shadow”.