Learning to Navigate Through a Flood of Words

       The first day of COMM writing class our Professor asked us to brainstorm for five minutes. Write anything down that came to mind when asked this question: “What is one of your earliest memories regarding reading or writing?” We then polished and finished these essays in later classes. This is what I came up with.

At the age of four my favorite storybook was a children’s Bible; I would constantly pester my mother to read it to me. After she had read it to me numerous times, I finally memorized the story of Noah.
My mother is a stay-at-home mom who, from the beginning, took time to teach us no matter what she was doing – including cooking. One morning I followed her into the kitchen where she was preparing lunch. Both my arms were preoccupied with the chunky illustrated Bible, but my little head was pondering where best to sit. I clumsily scooted my book across the counter.
I decided to climb onto the counter. From here I could observe the twinkle on the steel pots as the sun tickled them. Here I was close to my mother. Satisfied, I opened up my book and turned to my favorite story – Noah. Little did I know I had chosen the place where I would begin an adventure that would last me a lifetime.
The smells of rice, beans, and fresh baked bread interweaved in the air and the mystery of words began to unweave itself. My fingers traced under the words and I read them out loud for my mother’s approval or help. Suddenly, things began to sink in and make sense. I felt like Helen Keller must have felt the first time she understood that words were linked to objects. Likewise, I understood that these sets of letters, which until now had simply been pesky prints that took up precious room on the illustrated pages, were linked to the sounds we make when we speak.

     I could recognize the letters! I could understand what sounds to make! I could identify the words!
I was thrilled with this realization, as was my mother, but it was a fleeting thrill that lasted only until I turned the page. I had not memorized the story of the tower of Babel and these new groups of letters were foreign to me. Frustrated, I now wanted my mother to read me the story of Babel so I could memorize it too. She refused.
Instead she patiently turned the page back and asked me to point out the words I could recognize from Noah’s story. Then we flipped the page and I found the same words in the story of Babel. Word by word I began to understand that the sounds in one word could be readjusted to form new words. I now had my first taste of literary addiction.
From then on reading became a happy part of my life. It wasn’t always smooth going and sometimes when reading out loud in church disciples became “dis-ciples” and spirits became Sprite. But learning to read is a process I look back on with fondness and I am very thankful I got the chance to experience it.

I loved going back and remembering how I began to read. Now I invite you to share.. what are some of your earliest memories with reading or writing.. or maybe another early memory?

20 thoughts on “Learning to Navigate Through a Flood of Words

  1. Masked Mom September 21, 2013 / 7:50 pm

    My earliest reading memory involved a poem called “Johnny Crow's Garden” that was in a children's anthology of poems & stories. When I was four or so, I read it obsessively and chanted it around the house and eventually went on to read the whole book, some of it to myself and some of it aloud to my younger siblings. When I was pregnant with my first son, my younger sister bought a hardbound copy of “Johnny Crows Garden” for the baby, which I thought was a sweet gesture. Alas, Son-One never fell in love with that silly poem the way I did. 🙂


  2. Rachel September 3, 2013 / 11:37 am

    Wow, that's such a vivid memory! I can't really remember my first experience with reading, but I remember when my Mom stopped reading to me. I was trying to read over her shoulder while she read “Little Women” out loud, and I would interrupt her and ask her to turn the page before she was done reading it aloud (such an annoying little kid!!) and she just handed the book to me and said, “Okay, then, you can finish reading it by yourself.”


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  4. Joice Kelly April 10, 2013 / 6:21 pm

    very nice! the way your write, very detailed and interesting to read.
    I still struggle with writing in English but I write in Portuguese in my lil blog http://www.blogdajoicekelly.blogspot.com
    I thought I would pass by to share, and read a few of your recent posts.


  5. Winnie April 5, 2013 / 12:15 am

    Ornithorhynchus anatinus

    The song used the word in it and Fred Rogers named the baby platypus “Anna”, and we would sing it with ANNA ANNA ANNA at the end. So funny, me and mom (73) doing a duet all these years later.

    Hope your Easter was a Blessed one.


  6. Larissa T. April 3, 2013 / 10:13 pm

    Oh we edited it at home later, but it was a great writing prompt! I most definitely will treasure it. Thanks Carrie Ann! 🙂


  7. Larissa T. April 3, 2013 / 10:12 pm

    What's the word! I wanna know! Agatha Christie… awesome!


  8. Larissa T. April 3, 2013 / 10:12 pm

    Hahaha oh Marianne! I'm not sure, but I loved his books and their crazy pictures!


  9. Larissa T. April 3, 2013 / 10:11 pm

    Thanks Ann! Bible stories are awesome. 🙂


  10. Larissa T. April 3, 2013 / 10:10 pm

    Sometimes I think the best incentive to read is an example. 🙂


  11. Larissa T. April 3, 2013 / 10:09 pm

    Hahaha awesome! I remember phonics booklets too! Those were awesome.


  12. Larissa T. April 3, 2013 / 10:05 pm

    Thanks Katie! I'll send you an e-mail . 😉


  13. Carrie Ann Tripp March 22, 2013 / 11:54 am

    What a wonderful memory of learning to read! Treasure this memory. It most definitely needs preserved. You are definitely a gifted writer. Especially if that was your five minute free write piece!


  14. Winnie March 21, 2013 / 2:17 pm

    What a wonderful story! Your mom is a wonderful teacher! The love of reading fostered so young will be with you always, as is your gift of faith. My memories of learning to read were with my mom as we would watch Mr. Rogers, and to this day at 46 I can remember the word for duckbilled platapus in latin! We joke about it to this day. I have a strong love of reading from my mom who started me on Winnie the Pooh books (I thought I was named after him!), and then Nancy Drew, and then Agatha Chrisie. What a gift.


  15. Marianne March 21, 2013 / 4:05 am

    What a wonderful post. Dr. Suess was my first gateway into that magical world of reading. But now I have to wonder, those pictures were NUTS. What do you think he was smoking???


  16. Ann March 21, 2013 / 1:39 am

    Great piece Larissa! My daughter loves bible stories too. My earliest memory is kinda vague but very nice. I remember my mother reading me picture books an pointing out the beautiful illustrations. These early moments created my awareness and love for illustrations.


  17. Michelle March 20, 2013 / 1:41 pm

    My earliest book related memory is of me pulling all of my Mom's books off her bookshelf so I could look at them. I still remember her standing over me, not pleased with my mess! But I watched her read daily, and I wanted to do what she did. Her example started me on a life-long love of reading.


  18. Jewels March 19, 2013 / 9:09 pm

    You have very vivid memories! That's so great.
    I remember reading the Dick and Jane books when I was in elementary school. (That's how old I am.) Also, we had these phonics booklets that had an animal for each letter. Our teacher allowed us to work at our own pace and I loved how smart I felt every time I got to go and trade my booklet in for the next one.


  19. Katie Pilkington March 19, 2013 / 5:04 pm

    This was a lovely post. Such a beautiful memory and so vividly captured. I know you're swamped with school, but I'd love it if you considered contributing to my “And that's when I realized…” series. I think you would write a great addition. Think about it!


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