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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Reading (01/25/07)

TITLE: Encouragement Effects Reading Levels
By Annette Agnello


Do you remember those old fashioned wringer washing machines? My grandmother had one when I was a child. They were designed to put the individual pieces of laundry between the ringers to get rid of the water before hanging out to dry.

My oldest brother graduated from High school four months before I was born. Thirteen years earlier he had a tragic accident. Imagine the curiosity of a child of four when it came to a large noisy machine. These were the days of the model T, when you found your eggs under chickens, and milk came from the cow out back. The washing machine must have been a thing of wonder to a small child. One day he got too close and caught his arm in the ringer up to his shoulder.

I don’t know exactly what happened it was before I was born. I know the doctor wanted to break the arm and set it and my mother was adamant it had never been broken and they weren’t going to break it. The doctor was convinced it would be useless; even though it was before the days of physical therapy our mom massaged the arm and worked it up and down. A mother’s insight did all the things you now study years to learn. She not only saved the arm from being broken but exercised it till my brother could do it on his own. He grew up healed, you would never know he had been hurt. While he was recovering mom had to keep him occupied and quiet so he would not hurt it again. She taught him to read to occupy him. Mom told us when he started school it was over three years before he came across a word he didn’t already know.

I guess all of us were smart to start but we were also impatient to keep up with our oldest brother each of us knew how to read before we ever saw the inside of a school building. I’m not sure how my other brother’s early reading went but I do know he was the salutatorian when he graduated form high school. There is no shame in second place.

The more you read the more you learn. I did a lot of reading . I was in a combined room when I was in the second grade half the room was second graders, half were third graders. The school librarian always set out books on one side of the room for second grade books and the other side was for third grade books. Towards the end of the year I found a third grade book I wanted to read but she wouldn’t let me check it out, she told me to find a second grade book instead. She just didn’t understand I had read all the second grade books I had any interest in. A few weeks later during the summer vacation the county librarian encouraged me to read anything I had any interest in. She even had me reading Kipling’s jungle books by the end of the summer. I had finished the third grade and was headed for the fourth.

I kept doing well the next year a curious teacher got tests to find out how advanced my vocabulary was. I started with the fourth grade test and kept going. In theory you wouldn’t score well on the next grade beyond your vocabulary level. The teacher had only gotten tests through sophomore college level. I could have kept going. I am still curious to know what my reading level actually was. I had learned by reading early just as my brothers had.

I have spent a lot of time substitute teaching. I have seen youngsters of all ages, all reading levels The ones who read well read a lot and had from a very young age. They also had been encouraged. I will never forget a young man who in one class could not piece together the words, “spot welding,” while reading aloud. In another class where the teacher encouraged sounding it out, the child figured out the words, “Benito Mussolini.” He could do it in the history class because the teacher made him believe he could. In the shop class he was just a dumb kid learning a trade. There he knew what spot welding was but he was not smart enough to read it.

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This article has been read 645 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Karri Compton02/01/07
You have a valid point here. I encourage you to use dialogue in your story to break up the paragraphs of narrative. Also, in your title, "affects" is the appropriate word, not "effects".
God bless.
Jan Ackerson 02/02/07
The first part of this was very engaging, with a nostalgic feel to it. There were a few sentence fragments, and perhaps a bit of an abrupt ending. The part about your mother and brother would make a great short story.
Lisa Graham02/02/07
You put a lot of thought into this article, and I encourage you to keep sharing your thoughts in your writing. You see the value in encouraging others to improve their skills. I believe you learned this trait from your mother's coping skills as she developed physical therapy to help your brother heal from his injury.