Reading opened up my world

September 30, 2020 2:24 PM

a crown icon and the words "rising voices award winner"
Different road signs with altered text to encourage reading. Photo courtesy of Barbershop Books.

Different road signs with altered text to encourage reading. Photo courtesy of Barbershop Books.

Knock, knock, knock. The sound of my special reading teacher coming to take me out of class. It was 2011 and I was in second grade, struggling with reading. When I looked at the words on a page, I would just feel lost, as if I was staring into the cosmic void of the Milky Way. While other kids breezed through chapter books, I felt like a snail surrounded by cheetahs. Whenever I read out loud in class my voice would rattle and my face reddened like a tomato.

When I found out I would be taken out of class for extra help, my heart sank. I was terrified to tell my parents. They did not want to hear that their son was behind in school. My mom was not too happy about it at first because she felt like they were saying I had some sort of disability, but it was not that. I just needed a bit of extra help to get up to par with my peers.

A tall, skinny, white lady would take me out of class twice a week, my leg trembling with embarrassment. I could feel the other kids’ judgment, even though in reality, no one cared. Whenever we walked into the cramped classroom, it pushed me to want to work harder because it reminded me of the stress and struggles I endured. Right when I got home from school, I would either read books out loud or in my head. This was difficult for me because I was a little kid, and I had the attention span of a goldfish. But whenever I did read and get stuck on a page, I would force myself to continue reading the words until I understood it fully. After a month, my reading skills drastically improved.

With the help of my persistence and my parents, I got through the everlasting days of never-ending reading. By the end of the year, I was reading above my grade level. The endless hours of reading felt like hell, but in the end, I started to enjoy reading more. It did not make me scared or embarrassed it actually made me feel freer in the classroom. There was no more being worried that at any minute I might get picked to read. My vocabulary drastically increased. Now that I could read more fluently, I understood the world in a whole new light. It felt like I understood where I was going on the highway. Not only that but I began to know the name of different stores, cities and TV ads. It felt like I could finally understand what was going on around me. It opened up the world, unlocking everything.

Now that I have learned what practice can achieve, I want to apply this new-found skill of persistence and practice towards my dream of learning how to code. Learning to code is like learning to read all over again, just in a new language. Every form of coding is different: Python is one form and Java is another, but there are dozens of codes out there. I would love to learn how to use various forms of code because each one is like unlocking a whole new world. These worlds allow you to create video games, websites and create new forms of cybersecurity. Coding is what I love and it allows me to do other things that I love such as, creating and playing games, or browsing and creating new websites. Now, I am taking similar steps with coding, as I did to learn how to read: I repeatedly go over the strings of code until I understand them. When codes get hard, I look back at my reading journey, to remind myself that I can learn to code through practice and persistence.

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