A is for the magic of first words
Do you remember the cereal packet standing on the table. Those mysterious marks which parents and older siblings could decipher. Oh, the longing to read words burns in so many of us. It is magic and the small believe in magic, absolutely.We learn early that to master a gift such as magic we must put in the hours. Magic deserves work. We recognise first – shapes and the look of a word, learn the association of a shape with a reality. We think at first it will be easy but how to match a word such as ‘although’ with any reality – ‘aeroplane’? Easy. ‘Flour’? Simple. But those other strange words?
No, reading is a skill of overwhelming greatness. All of us who can, should celebrate daily, reading is of more magnitude than learning how to drive a car and that is an achievement. Think about it:)
The Alphabet which took our ancestors thousands of years to perfect our children can learn so well in a few short years that not only speech but reading is possible. From a mind devoid of words, possibly, (there are different schools of thought on how much pre-determination for language the new born baby possess) within five years some children are reading, reading well enough to explore books on their own. By nine they can read quite advanced storylines. I cannot quote many modern books but such as The Secret Garden, Treasure Island are within their grasp.
Amazing in that short span of time a lucky child will not only have mastered language and its complexities of grammar and structure but will have translated sound into symbols on a page.
So what did I progress too when I left the rolled oats and sugar packets behind – I look around the never-ending array of literary delights for children today and wonder any of us, back in those post war days, ever persevered long enough to get past our, oh so tedious, Janet and John books. We must have been made of stern stuff back then. We just wanted the words, illustrations were crude, did we care? Not a bit. Well I never did.
By the time I went to school at the age of 5 I could read pretty well, no problem with my ABCs. Great was the teacher’s ire when this was discovered. Children were not supposed to be taught to read before the teachers got their sadistic hands upon us. Okay, I must practise fairness here, not all teachers were sadistic back then but those in my school were.
Read = bad
Write = bad
so on the very first day I was in trouble and bored. I sat in sullenness while those who had been ‘good’ stumbled their way through the first year of lessons.It would be great to report I was way ahead of everyone but sadly, apart from those two skills, I was the class dunce:(
But, before school, what did I read or what was read to me, that I had the forbidden skills. I have no clear idea, apart from the unreliable memories before 5 years, come on, it was a very long time ago!
However I have treasured remnants of that time. As I sit and wander through these old tattered and torn books of decades before I see we were well served even then. I found a copy of a 1,2,3 , a Baby Puffin book and although I cannot find the copy I know we had the ABC edition as well, we all start with ABC,(well if we are learning English) the building blocks of English. Maybe that first reader of the alphabet was lost in a house move, a flood or just fell to pieces in the use.
I was certainly read nursery ryhmes and my father would play them on the piano for me to sing along too. Reading to a child is known to speed up the process of mastering the magic of reading. First sit and listen and then ‘do’ for oneself.
Goosey Goosey Gander in lurid colour! I cannot say what book this is from as the cover came adrift decades ago and wandered off to start a new life somewhere else.
Books were a rare commodity during and after the Second World War due to paper rationing. So I know I was read too from books possessed before this period and from just after the war. I possess many of them still. Made of cheap paper and well used over the years, they brought smiles of recognition from me as I sat and flicked through them. It must have been from these that I learnt to read.
There were to be many, maybe more exciting, books, for me as I progressed in my reading skills, as I explored the bookshelves at home and then in the public libraries. I will be exploring some of them during this month. But back when I was five, and trotted off to school with my forbidden skills, it had been these thin slivers of old paper which had turned the key for my lifetime of delights. I treasure them still.
There are hundreds of bloggers engaged in the a-z blog challenge throughout April pop over and view some of them – all worth the look see. 26 posts following each letter of the alphabet