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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Right and Left (07/31/14)

TITLE: Tommy's Giant
By Laura Hawbaker


Tommy glanced up from the Bible story book in his lap. He liked Sunday school, except for the reading part. Mrs. Lorenz thought since all her Sunday school students were in second or third grade they should take turns reading the story.

His friend Jenny was reading aloud and then it would be his turn. His stomach tightened. He wasn’t even sure which page they were on. Jenny was a good reader and Tommy liked to listen to her read. She could even make her voice sound like people talking. Tommy had overheard Jenny’s mother tell his mother that Jenny taught herself to read. Nobody even had to teach her. Wow, Tommy wondered what that would be like. Tommy loved stories; it was words that he had problems with.

Jenny was reading, but Tommy couldn’t follow very well. They were learning about David, one of Tommy’s favorite Bible characters, and he wished he could just listen to Jenny and not worry about reading. He glanced at her book to see if he could see what page she was on.

Suddenly the room was quiet and Tommy heard Mrs. Lorenz say, “Tommy, do you want to read? We’re right here on this page.” She kindly flipped over the page in Tommy’s book.

Tommy’s tummy tightened into a hard knot. Oh dear, a whole page of words and no pictures! The words jiggled and jumped about. Tommy squinted, trying to get the letters to hold still. The room was too quiet. Mrs. Lorenz quietly put a piece of paper over all the words except the first one.

There, that was better. Tommy exhaled. One word by itself didn’t jiggled so much. Tommy concentrated on the single word in front of him. His eyes struggled to locate the first letter. Oh, yes it was a “T”! “T” is what Tommy started with. He placed his tongue on the roof of his mouth and made the “t-t-t” sound as he focused on the next letter.

“Tommy,” Mrs. Lorenz interrupted, “Remember this is a sight word. Look at the whole word; you don’t say the “t” sound with this word.” Mrs. Lorenz used to be a regular teacher and she knew things like this.

“The!” Tommy blurted out. Of course! Now he remembered!

Mrs. Lorenz moved the paper over to reveal the next word. Oh, no. Tommy’s heart sank. The next word started with a “d”. Or was it a “b”? Was the stick on the left or on the right? Did a “d” look back and the “b” forward or was it the other way around? He frantically tried to remember what is teacher had told him. He heard someone snicker. He looked up miserably at Mrs. Lorenz. She smiled at him, “That’s ok, Tommy,” she said, “I’ll just read this page and you listen.”

Tommy sank back into his chair, relived yet embarrassed. “I’m not stupid.” He whispered in his head. Mommy had told him that over and over again. His teacher in school called him an inventive thinker. If someone read a story to him, he could answer all the questions. He was especially good at science. Why, he was the only one in the class who knew that water was made up of hydrogen and oxygen. And he knew that hydrogen and oxygen were very flammable, but together they could put out a fire. His teacher had really praised him when he shared that information with the class. She acted surprised when he knew what the word “flammable” meant. Of course, he knew. Mommy had explained it to him when he had asked how fire extinguishers worked. Maybe someday he could read just like everybody else.

Tommy listened to the story Mrs. Lorenz was reading. Oh, yes! He knew this story! It was about when David was a little boy and killed that great big giant! David was his hero. Maybe someday Tommy would sleigh a big giant too.

Authors note: Although this is fiction, it is based on the struggles my son had with dyslexia.

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This article has been read 171 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Brenda Rice 08/08/14
Very nicely done. I like everything about it.

Creative and inspiring. You're on my list of favs.
Carolyn Ancell08/08/14
Lovely story, written with authenticity.
You might want to check your spelling in sentence at end, I think you mean him to"slay" a dragon.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/09/14
This brought a big lump in my throat. I loved the patience of the teacher and how realistic the little boy was. You did a great job of showing what empathy is all about.
C D Swanson 08/09/14
Touching, moving, and poignant. I can relate having dyslexia myself. The teacher and the MC was very realistic...and when I read it was based on your son, I could see why.

God bless~
Amy Michelle Wiley 08/11/14
I have a similar eye problem to dyslexia so I can relate. I loved how the teacher was aware and tried to do what she could to quietly help. Also I like that your character's mom and other teachers reinforced that a learning disability does not mean stupidness. I'm so thankful that my parents also taught me that and that you taught your son that. Great writing. You had me right there in the moment.
Phillip Cimei08/12/14
I could feel the frustration of Tommy.

You did a great job of painting pictures of this embarrassing moment in a child's life.

Great job.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/14/14
Congratulations on ranking 14th overall! Happy Dance!