Learning to read

I could recite every word of Little Black Sambo (very politically incorrect now: I’m sorry, Sambo), but my mother said this wasn’t reading. I turned every page of a paperback book, which took several nights while my parents read their own books in the living room, but she said this wasn’t reading either.

I wanted to learn to read more than anything, but she had heard somewhere she shouldn’t teach me, so I had to wait till first grade. Sitting in my classroom one day, I remember looking up above the blackboard where our teacher had hung big pieces of construction paper with the names of the colors printed below. R-E-D.

I suddenly realized that that’s what reading was. R-E-D were symbols that stood for that color.

It felt like magic. It still does.

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