Sunday, April 01, 2007

Reading is fundamental....

When I was a freshman, I volunteered with this after-school program to help tutor young students, from ages 6-10. Study Buddies, we were called.

One girl, about 11, 12, was always really quiet when it came to story time. We'd pass the book around, letting each student get a chance to read a page. When we'd get to her, she'd start turning into a bully, giving a huge attitude.

The instructor sighed and let the next student read. Afterwards, when the girl was calm, I approached her and asked if she'd like to read with me. Tentatively, she grabbed the book I was holding and began to read.

"The ba-ba-ba...." she stuttered.

"Baby," I gently prodded.

"The baby...c-c-r...."

"Cried," I said.

"The baby cried," she said.

This went on for a page and a half and when I realized this little girl couldn't read any words more than three letters. When I was her age, I was devouring books, 2 or 3 of them a week. Now I understood why she was so angry and withdrawn.

I told the supervisor that I didn't think this girl could read very well. Extra help was arranged for her, along with counseling, because it turns out her home environment wasn't that beneficial either.

I don't know what became of her because my schedule didn't allow me to continue, but I think about her all the time.

She must be about 14, 15 now. I hope she was able to get the help she needed and was able to let go of her anger.

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