Many people who love reading say that they read already as children. They give the impression of little genius kids, who taught themselves to read at age of three and started on classics ten years before me, although we are the same age. I love that people have stories like that and the feeling that reading was just obvious for them, not to mention the huge baggage of reading that they have done!
It wasn’t like that for me. I didn’t go to kindergarten, just something like pre-school, which was called school preparation – I was six and I did it for few days a week, for a couple of months and then I was off to school. Obviously, at my time there weren’t these crazy rules that kids have to read and count and whatnot when they are starting the school – I actually learned that in school (which seems to be the whole purpose of schools, doesn’t it?)
So, my mom was busy working and she didn’t have much time to teach me to read or have bedtime readings. Before you jump on her for not reading me fairy tales – it wasn’t by choice, but by need. I was busy running around, playing outside with other children and didn’t have much interest in learning anything – I loved outside, running around, jumping from trees and climbing things I thought were hard to climb. It’s what you would call a win-win situation for me and my mother, none of us wanted or needed it. Nevertheless, once the school time came dangerously close, my mom decided that it’s time to teach me to read.
And it didn’t come easy for me. I was reading slow, wrong and much worse than anyone else my age. But somehow, she managed to push some letters into me and even got me some books from her library at work. I remember that a Barbie book had a lot of pictures, but a book she got for me – originally called Das doppelte Lottchen (my googling says that in English it is called Lottie and Lisa) by Erick Kastner never really got to me – I told my mom that I read it, but it felt huge and long and I never did, so I lied. I still feel bad about it and kind of want to read it, just to be even with past me for lying about it.
Somewhere around that time I also made my own library with all the books we had at home. It’s not like we had a great collection. They were all old and boring, but good enough for playing.
So, yeah, reading came hard for me, but it all changed at school. I am highly competitive, so I wanted to be the best at math and reading and basically everything, except for German, I didn’t really understand why I had to learn it. Still don’t. So obviously I didn’t really care about German, but cared about everything else. So suddenly I turned from this kid who had never been able to properly put a sentence together, into a kid who recited poems by heart and was the fastest reader (or one of the fastest) in her class.
And it’s true. Once or twice a year we had a timed reading session with our teacher, where she counted how many words we can read in a minute. And based on the count we would get the ‘happy’ sticker, the ‘alright’ sticker or the ‘sad’ sticker, so training in speed reading was totally worth it, right?
Not even to mention those: “So… how much did you get?” – that classmates were asking each other, like we would be some kind of gang who had a weed selling competition. It seems so silly and stupid – why would that even matter, how fast a kid reads, if he can read? And all that pride was totally weird and stupid.
It was glorious, but my motivation, pretty much was to be simply the best. I didn’t care much about reading and the stories being interesting, the interest and care about books came later.
So how did you came to read? Was it easy for you? The alphabet I learned has 33 letters plus various sounds. How did it go for you? Let me know in the comment section below, if you remember the first book you read all on your own!