When I learned how to read

Since I was very small, I was a huge lover of stories. I loved sitting with my mother when she read me some picture books, and I loved lying next to my father while he read me a bedside story. I would eagerly listen, completely absorbed in the story.

But despite my love of stories, for a long time, I wasn’t very keen to learn how to read a book myself. My mother tried to teach me how to read, but unlike when I was listening to a story, I was extremely impatient when it came to learning to read a text. I couldn’t even sit still and tried every way possible to escape my mother’s reading lesson.

“I don’t need to read!” I protested. “I can make my own stories!”

And so I did. I would pick up a picture book from my bookshelf, open it as if reading it to somebody else, and start telling a story that I guessed and imagined from the pictures.

My parents were entertained by my story-telling, but when I was three, my mother finally forced me to sit down and learn how to read. There is a scene in my head: one morning, I’m sitting by the window of our tiny half-dilapidated apartment with the book The Three Billy Goats Gruff on my lap, waiting for my mother. A few seconds later she arrives with a cup of coffee in her hand and sits next to me, ready to start the lesson, and I’m already thinking when the lesson will be over and I’ll be free to play again.

Since I was poorly motivated, my reading lesson only made very slow progress. But I eventually learned how to read letters and started reading some easy books written for young children.

I remained a slow reader for a long while until the breakthrough came when I was about five. My father had just finished reading The Hobbit for my bedside story, and I wanted to read the book myself. It was the first time I had ever desired to read a book, and once I had that desire, nobody needed to tell me to sit to read anymore. Every day, I was found on the floor hovering over the text of The Hobbit, following letter to letter, word to word, sentence to sentence until finally I finished reading it. Since then I no longer had any difficulty reading texts.