October 17th, 2017 by parkjo

Little memories

Somewhere in the furnace room in my basement is a cardboard box full of hardcover Dr. Seuss books. These books used to be on the bookshelf in my room, and every night I would ask my mom to read me the same book; Wish For A Fish. It’s the greenish-blue one with an octopus on the front. I heard it so often that before my mom actually taught me how to read it, I had memorized it and could “read” it (recite it) word for word, page turns included. Wish For A Fish went into retirement for a while so that I could learn how to really read a book, but since I already knew what several words were supposed to look like, the process was much easier than my mom or I expected. From then on, my mom would take me to our local library to fill up a duffel bag with books and take them home to spend the next two weeks doing nothing but practicing reading, which I loved. One of the books gave me major issues–A New Roof. How the heck was I supposed to know that the “e” in “new” is pronounced “oo” instead of “eh?” I spent what felt like hours trying to figure out this weird word and why I had never heard it before until my mom, finally fed up with hearing me struggle to fit a short e sound where it didn’t belong, explained the mysterious word to me. She probably doesn’t remember the incident, but it’s engrained in my brain forever as part of the process of me learning to read

October 12th, 2017 by mudds

My Literary Conception

I’ve always loved reading and literature in general. Some of my earliest memories involve reading and how my parents would tell me not to read while I’m walking down the stairs or while I’m doing something else. However, there was no specific time, at least that my parents can recall, where everything just “clicked” and I could suddenly read. It was more of a gradual thing, where I would pick up on words and phrases that my parents said or that I heard while reading Doctor Seuss, Winnie the Pooh, or The Berenstein Bears. I always was reading SOMETHING. So when I started stringing together complete sentences in books and using words and phrases from those books in actual conversation, it came as no surprise to anyone.

Therefore, I think I learned to read from ages 2-5, and I kept on my literary path ever since. There was something about reading that was magical to me. It could transport me to different worlds and I could meet new people that I would never meet before. I could sometimes even SEE the people I was reading about in my mind’s eye. And that made all the difference and catapulted me on my path to where I am today.

October 12th, 2017 by smithkk

Books, Books, Books

A huge part of my childhood was centered around books. My mom started reading to me when she was pregnant, like she did for my brother. When I was an infant, she started taking us to “story time” at the local library, which we attended for years.

We were read to at home, too. Every day for a few hours we would sit on the couch, my brother and I on either side of our mom, and listen. When my brother started preschool, my mom began teaching him to read, following along in books by tracing her finger under the words, pausing to let my brother read out every “and,” “a,” and “the.” As he learned more words, I would just sit there quietly and absorb everything.

When my brother was in kindergarten, he was assigned “sight words” to study so he could read them on sight. My mom made flash cards for him, but he told her that he already tested out of the words the week before. My brother suggested that she teach me the words instead, but my mom soon realized that I knew them as well.

Throughout my childhood, we continued to go to the local library every week. My mom would bring a backpack for us to completely fill with twenty to twenty-five books to take home, which we always read multiple times. The books I chose always had animals in them; the Berenstein Bears, Goodnight Farmer, Barnyard Dance, the Big Red Barn, etc. It was a bonding activity for us, sitting down together and reading every day. My mom says that reading has always been natural for me, and that just continued to grow as I got older. I still credit my mom for inspiring the love of books I have today.

October 12th, 2017 by borchert

Learning to Read English across the Seas

Shortly after I turned one year old my family moved from their apartment in Chicago, Illinois to a little one story house with paper windows in Shinmatsudo, Japan. We lived in Japan for about 5 years before returning to America to live in Cleveland, Ohio. After returning we stopped speaking Japanese and I largely forgot the language.

I learned Japanese simultaneously with English however I did not learn to read Japanese and English at the same time. While my memory of this time is somewhat patchy my mother has informed me that my older brother, Andrew, and I learned Japanese by first mimicking the cadence of the language while the words were just nonsense. Later, once my brother and I were fully bilingual, we would surprise old Japanese people when they were talking about us on the train. These people saw two small white boys and assumed they were safe to talk about us. Quite the surprise when I would turn around and respond to them.

As long as I have been alive my parents have read stories to me and that is part of  how I learned to read. After learning the Alphabet while we were still living in Japan I would try to practice as much as possible. My favorite thing to do while we were in a taxi would be to read all the english on the signs in Japan. English words are far more common in the Japanese public space than you would think most likely because of World War II. I wonder what was going through the Taxi driver’s head when he hears from the back a little white boy reading the english signs that we passed and then later I would ask him questions in Japanese.

To this day I still love to read the signs on shops as I am driving by. I am sure that people think that I am insane as they are in the passenger seat staring at their phone and I just randomly call out “marriot” or “sheds for sale” but I can’t shed my roots.

October 12th, 2017 by tarwatel

Learning How to Read by Reading

Reading has been my favorite activity for as long as I can remember; that being said, I have no recollection of how I learned to read. However, I’m pretty certain I enjoyed every moment of the process. Ever since I was a baby, I found looking at books and being read to the most magical pastime. My parents are also avid readers, so they fostered my interest in books; before I was literate, I would obsessively stare and flip through books and attempt to understand their words.

My love for books was so intense I would spend most of my time going through every book on my bookshelf. I suppose through this process, I eventually began to make the connection between the words on the page and the illustrations/reader. After speaking with my mother, she told me when it came to formally “learning to read” at about age 4, it was completely natural for me, as I already knew words from exposure.

I remember some of the first books I could read by myself were the Frog and Toad series. This was in pre-school, and I quickly became obsessed with reading as many books possible; I was known to not leave my room for hours in an attempt to expand my knowledge. The concept of visualizing the story I was reading in my head was fascinating as a child, and explains my love for literature today.


October 12th, 2017 by kropfm

My Very First Book

I have a surprisingly vivid memory of the exact moment I learned to read. Well, maybe not the exact moment, but close.  Up until this point, I would always only pretend to read. You know the typical image of a child “reading” a book upside down trying to act as if she knows exactly what she’s doing, right? Yep. That was me. Or at least it was me until this day.

I remember sitting in my room on a Sunday afternoon and “reading” for hours on end. I guess at this point, I could technically read words, but to me it didn’t count as officially being able to read until I had finished the whole book. The book was Go, Dog, Go and I had been really working hard on it for a while. My dad had been helping me, but needed to go mow the lawn or do some other dad-like thing. But I stayed there and decided to start from the beginning again by myself. I was very determined for a five-year-old. I read one page, then another, then another. At long last, I turned the last page over. I couldn’t believe it, I had finished it. I was so proud of myself that I immediately ran downstairs and outside to tell my dad. He, being busy mowing the lawn, was not quite as excited as I was, but then again, I don’t think many people could be. I was pretty wild with pride. Thinking back on it now, I almost laugh at myself for going crazy after reading a ten page book with only four or five words per page.


October 12th, 2017 by choc

Learning to Read

I learned how to read at around 3, no big deal. When I started being able to read in sentences, my dad made a big stink over how my mom bought a thousand dollars worth of books.

Although I’d had a complete grasp of reading by age 5, literacy and being able to read was still a huge issue for me: at age 7, I’d left home for a year abroad in Newark while my parents worked as visiting professors of NJIT. Although I was familiar with the alphabet and had a small vocabulary in English, I’d never really learned to read in anything other than Korean. I started by learning how to hear: leading up to the trip, my mom would stay up past midnight to record broadcasts of cartoons and childrens’ TV on VHS during satellite livecasts of foreign channels. Eventually, the cartoons of magic busses turned into picture books, which turned into story books, which turned into chapter books—still of magic busses. I learned chapter books first by listening to audiobooks first, although I’d never stay awake past the first few chapters.

Even though I learned how to read short books, I’d never learned how to read everything else: the western world, the signs, the streets, the people. I was never able to hold a conversation or know when people were talking to me. (auditory processing issues make me extremely sensitive to noises and sounds but not to words and conversations)

With this hostile environment isolating me, I isolated myself further through reading. My social skills: ability to read people and situations, social anxiety got worse with this isolation; all I did was read. That never really changed when I came back, or when I went back, and when I came back a second time. I was always in the corner of the social hierarchy: the weird kid, the queer kid, the mentally ill kid. And I chose to keep myself there, through reading.

But soon, the coping mechanism became a passion. I started thinking and enjoying the experience as more than just a way to escape. I started speaking out in english class, making connections. My escape from reality was a door that opens from both sides: an escape back into it.

Reading and thinking and talking about what I’ve read and what I’m reading is no longer a tool for me to distance myself, but a tool that helps me face the reality of the world around me, to connect further with it.

At age 16, I had finally learned to read; and I’m still learning how every day.

October 12th, 2017 by hrbekm

Learning to Read through Exposure

I learned how to read gradually. At least that’s what my mom told me when I called to ask her, for the occasion of this blog post, if she had any memories to share with me about the process. She reminded me that I grew up in a house full of books, and that she or my dad would read to me every night. Since I was the youngest of three kids and my parents were both busy with full-time jobs, bedtime stories functioned as a substitute for more structured efforts to foster my reading ability in those earlier years.

But this was never a problem. Although I didn’t start reading independently until I was 5 or 6 years old, I loved stories and the words that constituted them long before then. There were a few children’s books that I insisted on hearing so often that I could recite the words from memory before I was actually able to read them myself. And I remember being fascinated, though not quite comprehending at 3 years old, as my parents read Harry Potter and other lengthy novels to my older siblings. I began to learn more formally in pre-school, and my reading ability was cemented around the time I was in kindergarten, aided by the rows of alphabet letters I was required to copy for homework.

Though it was a gradual process, learning to read didn’t pose a challenge for me. Even now, my parents never miss an opportunity to say that I spoke with an advanced vocabulary at a young age, and used words that they didn’t understand how a toddler could have learned. But I suspect I learned them by listening to the verbal language of adults — picking up on individual words first and letting them inform my reading comprehension as I grew.

October 11th, 2017 by Rachel Lockwood

A Cheesy Account of Learning to Read

My experience learning to read was one of relative normalcy, I suppose. I never went to preschool, but I did go to daycare before kindergarten. Though not as rigorously academically oriented like a preschool, my daycare had story time, in which the teacher read picture books aloud to a large group of us. During coloring time and arts and crafts, the teacher would ask us to write our names and simple words such as “dog” or “cat.” My parents loved to read picture books to me, and eventually my brother, at night. They would occasionally work on word pronunciation with us then. This was the extent of my exposure to reading before kindergarten.

When kindergarten began was when I remember my world expanding. I loved school, and was always bursting with excitement to go. Perhaps the most important activity my teacher had us do was the “reading bag.” To me, this reading bag was the most luxurious, most expensive, most exciting bag I had ever owned, and contained the most precious items I had ever been given. It was really just a gallon plastic bag with my name on an index card taped to the outside of the bag. But it contained a reading log in which I was able to keep track of my nightly reading. Each night, I was sent home with a new book that I was expected to read with a parent. Whomever read with me that night wrote notes in my log about my progress and signed their name to verify. With each book level mastered, I became more and more confident in my abilities as a reader. There was nothing more satisfying than moving from level 4 to level 5 to level 6, and so on.

By third grade, I was reading small chapter books. I spent my Saturdays curled up reading whole “Magic Treehouse” books in one sitting. They offered a space for me to escape for a few hours, and it made me happy to see the stack of “need-to-read” books dwindle and move into the “finished” pile. My habit grew and soon I was trying to stay up past my bedtime to read just one more chapter of my book. And the rest, as they say, is history.

When I asked my parents about my journey through reading, I laughed. I remembered more than they did about how I learned to read! I suppose that is a testament to how personal the journey is, and I have enjoyed every moment of mine.

September 28th, 2017 by hrbekm

Othello as a Mockumentary

I would be fascinated to see Othello in the format of a mockumentary TV series like The Office or Parks and Recreation, having normal scenes interspersed with cuts to characters speaking to the audience alone as if in interviews. It would have to be shown on a screen rather than a stage, and the medium of storytelling would naturally require some adjustments to the narrative and setting.

As the hypothetical director of this project, I would step away from sixteen century warfare and into the present time period. However, I think to keep the dramatic plotting and scheming in the original work central to the plot, I would want to stay away from the humdrum workplace settings that are typical to mockumentary citcoms. Even if they were thrown into the year 2017, I definitely envision these characters engaged in high-stakes political affairs in the upper crust of society. Accordingly, it would be more dramatic than strictly comedic.

This format would be especially interesting as a means to explore Iago’s character. Some of the lengthier asides in his dialogue might even work more effectively if he were saying them “off stage,” so to speak. Instead of speaking at length about his hidden intentions to Roderigo, for instance, I might have him rant to a camera. And though his character would probably be the most fascinating to unpack through the mockumentary format, I would also want to explore the reactions of other characters to the events of the narrative as they occur. Is Othello’s willingness to buy into Iago’s set-up a result of any conscious insecurities? What does Desdemona really think of everyone? These are questions I’d like to know the answers to.

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