For me, it was Black Beauty. That was the turning point. I know I was very young because my mother seemed very tall to my child’s mind. I remember she used to make me read to her. I also remember how much I hated having to try to learn the meaning of words by sounding out those letters and trying to change the meaning of those pesky letters on a page to a picture in my mind. It was a tedious process, but my mother was a demanding taskmaster. More and more words slowly translated into pictures in my mind as my eyes saw them on the paper. She MADE me read for a certain amount of time every day…one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish. Then to add injury to insult, I couldn’t even relax in the car as I was asked to read all the signs I saw for a while whenever we went anywhere until I hardly had to look at the signs to tell her what they said! The woman was relentless, and I felt tortured – forever! I hated that stupid Jack and Jill and that dumb hill and all the rest! I was tired of her pushing and making me work so hard every day! It was painful to my head, boring and an awful waste of playtime!
However, after a while, I found myself slowing becoming resigned to the constant struggle with this ridiculous need of my mother’s to push me every single day to read out loud. I still hated it, but I stopped fighting her as much. Truthfully, I started to recognize a bunch of the words and the task slowly becoming a little less painful. I was even starting to be asked to read to myself, but I was still required to tell her what I had read. So, I still didn’t like it much, and I was still having a hard time, especially with new words and the requirement of using that dictionary she taught me how to use, but I was hitting a level of acceptance with the seemingly unending task.
I still remember when she handed me THAT book – stupid yellow cover with just a black horse on it! I could only groan! I had just finished something tedious, but I have no idea what it was. In any case, my mother gave me her usual tolerant smile and just handed me the book. I remember thinking how unfair to have to read another boring book, and this one was really FAT, too! But, I knew the drill, so off I went.
I can’t explain to you how hard or how fast I fell, but you should understand that to me, it was pure magic. The next thing I knew I was in the story and in love with this gorgeous black horse! I remember my own sense of astonishment and awe. I was in the story, and I no longer saw the words on the page, but watched the story with my mind. I couldn’t put it down, and I read for hours and hours! That day, and that book, made me a reader and set me on the path to lifetime learning. By the time I entered school I was a great reader for my age, and it has been my primary hobby and favorite pastime since the day my mother made me read THAT book.