The First Time the Words Made Sense

Tyler September 1992

In honor of National Read Across America Day, I cannot help but to reflect on the day the words on the pages finally made sense to me. I get so excited when I think about the first time I learned to read.

 The earliest memories of mine are age four. The year was 1992. My mother read to my sister and I every night before bed. I remember being jealous of them because they seemed to know something that I didn’t. They could read and I had a burning desire to do the same. Early on I felt like a failure because I knew my ABC’s, could count to 100, even tie my shoes, the only thing missing were the words on the page. I tried and tried to pick up the same books that she read to us, but the words just didn’t make sense. I’d even tell her, “Look Ma, I can read now!” pretending like I knew the words but I was actually reciting the story from memory or making it up as I go along (way to foreshadow my life as a writer). I grew more and more frustrated as the days passed and she assured me that it would come sooner or later.

My favorite childhood book is P.D. Eastman’s “Go Dog Go!”. Those dogs were so adventurous and I loved every second of their ride. I carried that book with me everywhere I went practicing, hoping that one day the words would just jump out at me and roll right off my tongue. 

One Saturday I was back at it again, page by page waiting on it to happen and then it did.  I was flipping through the book for the 1,000th time and loudly proclaimed, “Stop, dogs. Stop! The light is red now!”. If the feeling was anything like winning the lottery, then I had struck it rich.

 Finally, I reached my goal. To commemorate the moment, I closed my bedroom door and grabbed a pencil. I went to the door frame and wrote “No go”. I had remembered that my mom told me that you can’t go on red lights and that was the page that I just read, so it was like my mnemonic device. I ran to throughout the house to tell everyone that I was finally their equal because I could read. Sweet redemption. As the years passed, the enchantment that is found in reading still sparks that same passion in my life.

Nearly 23 years later, the words I penned on the wall are in the same spot. When I told my mom why I did it, she spared my behind in the name of literacy.

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I'm a girl. My name is Tyler. Girls can be named Tyler.

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