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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Reading (01/25/07)

TITLE: When Mother Read to Me
By Jeanie Pinkston
01/31/07


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Reading and writing are inextricably linked together like threads woven in fabric. After all, if there were nothing written, we’d be hard pressed to find something to read, wouldn’t we? Reading and writing provide a classic topic almost like “which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

Not all avid readers become writers but, for some, a love of reading does lead inevitably to writing. Before I could read, my mother read to me. When Mother read to me, it was usually from a big book of children’s Bible stories. She read me stories about Noah and the flood, Joseph and his multi-colored coat, Zacchaeus waiting to see Jesus, and Jesus calling the little children to Him. As soon as I was able, I began to read the stories for myself. I was fascinated by them. In addition, I read dozens of Little Golden Books, and later Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries. I read classics like “The Velveteen Rabbit” and “Alice in Wonderland.” I read frivolous books like “Little Nancy” and “Superman” comics. I read inspiring books like “The Cross and the Switchblade” and “In His Steps.” I loved reading. I was mystified at the way words fit together to form a story that could inform me, make me laugh or cry, inspire me, or challenge me. Stories that simply made me feel.

It was as a high school student that I discovered the power of having an audience read and enjoy something I’d written--and it became a watershed moment. As an assignment for senior English class, each student had written a short story. I’d chosen to write fiction. Several days after the assignment was due, our teacher called the class to attention and announced she would read aloud several stories which had been submitted. She would not reveal the author’s identity until after reading the story.

My heart began racing as I quickly realized she was reading my story. Always having a tendency to blush, I felt my face glowing redder by the second as I wondered what sort of reception the story would receive from my classmates. The story I’d written was supposed to be a comedy about a muddled bank robbery with would-be thieves who were anything but experienced, hardened criminals. In the end, they’d attempted to escape by using their belts but had been quickly caught when their pants fell down.

“What if my classmates think my story is horrible? What is they don’t laugh? What if they don’t think it is funny…just incredibly corny?” I thought in panic. I found myself sinking down in my seat, wanting to bolt from the class.

However, as the teacher read, the students began to chuckle at lines here and there, and occasionally they laughed loudly. My heart continued to race, and I hoped no one was noticing my red face. My hands shook and my palms were sweating as she came to the end of the story. When she finished, to my delight, the class erupted in applause. The teacher asked the author to stand, and although my knees were shaking almost uncontrollably, somehow I stood up. The class again applauded, and I sank back into my seat.

As the minutes passed, the red in my cheeks finally softened into a warm glow as I realized my story had been received just as I’d hoped. It was a writer’s dream come true--a dream that had begun many years before when Mother read to me.

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