The Joys of Reading
I have always been a reader, even from an early age. It started with a weekly subscription to The Story Teller. Every week my mum would collect a magazine filled with stories that came with a tape and I would sit, listen and read alone. That was my education into reading and all before I started school.
By the time I was around eight or nine I was becoming bored with the normal children’s books and started rifling around my mums bookcase for things to read and that’s when I discovered two of my literary heroes.
Stephen King and James Herbert kept me entertained for hours and sometimes even frightened me senseless, but I loved them and I still do. There were also the Pan’s Book of Horror Stories, which I still have, and that always gave me sleepless nights, yet I still loved them. I think this is where I understood how words could bring out strong emotion in people. For me, it was fear. The collection of words that created a narrative that in turn would drive my imagination so much that it brought with it such fear excited me. I wanted to do that.
I have never understood how anyone could not love to pick up a book. It seemed ridiculous, until I had my daughter. For her reading has always been a chore and much to my frustration I tried everything and anything to figure out why she wouldn’t read. Then a couple of years ago an optician said to me after she passed her yearly eye test. “Have you had her checked for dyslexia or Mears Ilen: www.irlen.org.uk.” So I took her long to be tested and that’s when I discovered just how difficult it was for her to read.
We all have our inner reading voice and a little movie playing as we read. It helps build up a picture of what the writer is trying to create. For her that doesn’t happen. She reads the words, and that’s it. They have no meaning to her. This is because that if she reads black print on white paper all the text moves around. It takes all her effort just to read the words that there is not enough brain power to find the words emotive meaning. After the test, we discover that the colour she can read from is blue. “That should sort it out” The tester says ” but if not then she needs to be tested for dyslexia as well”
Now this is where it becomes interesting. After speaking to the school they tell me she has had a test in her first year at high school. I asked what the test involved and they said that they made her read a few paragraphs from a book. Her reading age is around 10, but that’s ok, just as long as she’s reading. To which my reply is “So you are happy that at 14 her reading age should remain at 10”. “Yes” is the answer.
We are now coming up to GCSE’s and of course exams are becoming difficult. She has little understanding of what the question is asking. The problem is is that I know form previous experience that if someone read that question out to her, she would answer it in a shot. So what this all boils down to is funding. The higher education faculties have the funding to diagnose those with reading difficulties, where as High schools and pre-schools don’t. It seems that each institution passes a child on through the system in the hope that someone else will catch them and foot the bill and that’s when children get lost in the educational system.
I find this very sad that the enjoyment of books is being missed by those children that have been left behind due to difficulties. At fifteen now, my daughter is resistant to reading, because its too much hard work and the support has not been given. If at primary school those difficulties were spotted and dealt with than maybe children like my daughter would learn how to handle their conditions much better.
Reading and enjoying a book is a valuable gift to be enjoyed by everyone and it saddens me that some are not able to have that experience.