When I saw the subject title of the program on the display stand, I stopped and read, "The Reader". It brought back memories of the process through which I had learned to love to read. Next, I thought of the vast richness that reading adds to the lives of most avid readers. Then, suddenly, a long ago memory came stealing to the fore front of my thoughts and those words took on a whole new meaning.
I was four years old; it was 1950. Back then most children did not see the inside of a classroom until they were six, and not a whole lot were taught letters at home. I don’t remember wanting to be read to on a regular basis or being curious about what a book said, except one.
One of my sisters was in the third grade. She didn’t care a lot about reading, but she brought her reading book home when she had an assignment. One evening, I picked up her book and began looking at the small drawings that were at the top or bottom of some of the pages. When I came to a story called “Tar Baby”, I was totally fascinated by the pictures of the little black sticky doll and the rabbit that got stuck to it.
I asked my sister what the title said; then, I wanted to know what the story was about. I kept staring at the pages and asking questions; for the first time in my life, I wished I could read. My sister was growing impatient with me and that only increased when I started begging her to read the story to me. At first she refused, but I kept begging. Finally, Mama told her to read the story to me. She begrudgingly began to do so. I only felt bad about her having to do something she didn’t want to for a few seconds; I was too fascinated by the story.
Many years later, about the time the grandchildren began to come a long, I found an old school reader a lot like the one I remembered and it contained a story about Tar Baby. The pictures were a bit different but it still brought back memories of that day long ago and a dear departed sister that read to me. The name of the book is “The Open Door”; it was published in the 1920s. Mine is still on my book shelf, awaiting the arrival of the great grandchildren.