Learning to read by Anne Gleeson

I recently started to think about the process of learning to read and I can’t really remember learning this. I think that I innately knew how to do it. 

I can remember the process of learning to spell and learning my times tables and to add and subtract. I remember clearly learning to write and practising each day perfecting the letters and numbers so skilfully written on the blackboard.

I was recently rummaging in a secondhand shop  and I came across a copy of this treasure and I had an almost instant recall of the stories in the book.  However I do not have the memory of a friend.  When I told her about the purchase she was able to recite the poem which introduced the volume.

An open road, is a friendly road

I love to travel daily,

And kindly folk I meet and greet

And talk to them so gaily.

Here in this book are the stories of the Runaway Plum, Two Little Raindrops (called Pitter and Patter), The Brownies Winter House, The Elves and the Shoemaker, The Pied Piper and my favourite The Apple Fairy were the fodder of an avid reader

The vocabulary of the stories is somewhat outdated and many people in the stories are frolicking gaily.  The words and concepts in the stories struck me as being beyond the scope of Infants School reading, however, I was able to read these stories and oh how I loved them. 

There is one story about Robinson Crusoe.  In this story Mr Crusoe has been shipwrecked on the island and is living in a cave when he notices four “savages” running along the beach.  He runs down with his gun and shoots two of the savages and scares one off. The fourth savage who was being chased is thus rescued and is so grateful that he becomes Robinson’s slave and is taught to say the words Yes, No and Master…..Oh how times have changed.  

In the back of the book is a list of words and phrases which are contained in the story and meant to be part of out vocabulary.  One of the phrases which made me smile was “a wondrous portal”.  Now I am not sure that as a child in grade two I knew what a portal was, let alone a wondrous one.  And as for using it as part of my vocabulary I cannot image myself sitting at the tea table asking if anyone had experience of a wondrous portal.

Some of the stories were written with parts like a play and as a class we would be called on to read out the parts. I just loved to be chosen to read one of the parts although I am aware that some of my classmates dreaded being called to read aloud. 

One of the great joys of my childhood was being given a book and the joy that receiving such a has never diminished. 

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