Monday, April 2nd, 2018...8:04 pmAnnalee

Learning To Read

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I think it’s kind of funny that I can’t remember how I learned to do something that seems so effortless now. According to my mom, my brother and I were read to practically from the second we were brought home from the hospital. Strapped to our cribs were signs with different shapes, colors, and lines on them so that we could start distinguishing different objects and shapes. Babies apparently see red and black better than other colors, so the signs consisted of red squiggly lines and black squares amongst other shapes of varying sizes and colors. Everywhere we went, mom and dad were exposing us to new signs with new colors and new shapes until we began to differentiate between them.

Every week, we’d go to the library to pick out that week’s helping of books. Sometimes we’d go more than once a week, picking up twenty or so books. Sometimes mom and dad would pick out books, other times we would pick up a bag of pre-organized books by a certain category. Sometimes we’d head back home with the books, other times we’d stay and read in the colorful children’s room with me often getting distracted by the fish tank against the wall. Other times, more frequently than not, we’d be just in time for story time and be able to be read aloud to. I don’t remember many of the books I read or were read to me, but we still own “Pat The Bunny” and “The Night Before Christmas”, both classics that I think most kids have read.

By the time we started school, I could recognize words like A, The, and Jane, nothing too complicated. From then on, I guess my reading was in the hands of my teachers. Once I was reading chapter books, I remember my parents providing an incentive for us to read: 10¢ for every page we read. I was just trying to make a living, when Teddy, my brother, had to ruin all the fun and start reading nonstop, emptying my parents’ pockets of change. In the end, I didn’t need to money to inspire me to read and neither did Teddy, but I’m still a little salty that he ruined the fun.


  • When you started talking about the shapes and colors by your crib, I started to wonder how do parents or teachers decide what should be taught first. I mean, yes I know there is a lot of research and books saying children should know X by this many months, and Y before Kindergarten. But, why learn colors and shapes first? Why not textures and temperatures? I think it all comes down to this theory that children should learn part before whole, or the basics before the many different details or extras. I wonder if children were taught something other than colors, shapes, and letters first how differently they would be able to read, a faster pace, etc.? Once children learn how to read, it is very important that they keep reading, so they can become more advance and progress- like the incentive game your parents introduced, and going to the library every week. Reading is ultimately the gateway to higher levels of thinking.

  • I think that this reminds me a lot of the things that I did when I was a kid. When you started talking about the way that you would go to the library every week it brought back a memory of going to listen to someone read aloud to me in the library and then picking out a mountain of books (and VHS tapes) and bringing them home to hopefully keep me occupied for at least the day my mom would say. Your joked about trying to make a living off of reading the pages actually made me laugh. If I had this kind of incentive, I would have been doing the same thing If my parents did this for me, I think that I would have acquired more money from my parents than my older brother because he was a late reader. I used to love books, and I remember that my parents would always read aloud to us. I really liked the way that you tied in colors and things that babies see because I think that is the first time that you learn words and start familiarizing yourself with words.

  • Your post was extremely relatable because my parents did the same thing when I was a child. To get me interested in reading, my father bought me the Harry Potter series. Whenever I finished reading a chapter, he would give me 20.000 VND (the equivalent of $1), which would get me extra-chicken sticky rice instead of just plain sticky rice. Details of the signs on your cribs also stood out to me: I wonder what effect did they have on enhancing your ability to read? A kid’s brain is likely to record images, colors, and rhythms longer than the dense “alphabet,” and as a result, adults make use of these memory patterns to educate children from an early age. I also remember going to the local library on a weekly basis between the age of 5 and 10, immersing myself in “Doraemon” and “Detective Conan” – comic books filled with colorful illustrations. I notice that during our childhood, we all had the tendency to be attracted to shapes, moving pictures, and robust colors because they speak to our imagination. Gradually, as we grow up, we turn that imagination into words.

  •   Professor Seiler
    April 10th, 2018 at 2:12 am

    Annalee, what a great story of having a “buddy” in your brother as you learned to read. Are you and Teddy twins? Also, your incentives story clearly struck a chord with your peers!

  • I really like your section on going to the library, that was a huge part of my reading experience as well. I loved simply touching the books, holding them in my hands. Sitting in the children’s section of a library is sp vivid to me, and I remember one of the branches I went to had a hamster (directly above the BabyMouse section) that got me equally as distracted.
    The library brings me such warm memories, and it seems like the same is true for you.

  • I think it’s funny but also great that although your parents offered a monetary incentive for you and your brother to read, you both continued to read steadily anyway even after they stopped giving you both money. I love that reading was something both you and your brother did together on some level: I have a brother as well but I do not remember us reading together, although I am sure we must have at some point maybe with my mom. I appreciate that your parents put in effort to help you guys to read, like what you talked about with the red and black, differently-shaped signs.

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