My Struggle With Learning to Read

In which I share my journey from words being my enemies to my life revolving around them. 

I’ve got something I want to share today.

It’s probably not a huge secret that I love to read. If that’s news to you, then get out. You haven’t been paying any attention.

I’m kidding, please come back. I love you.

Anyway, I tend to tell people I’ve always loved reading, because that’s the simple version of the story, but that’s not entirely the true story. So today, I’m going to tell you the true story.

When I was little, my mother read to me a lot. Not just picture books, but also chapter books like the Little House series. I absolutely loved the stories my mother read to me, and I wanted to be able to read them for myself. By the time I was three or four, I could read simple books.

I’ve shared this before, but this is how I felt about books in preschool.

I’m not sure what exactly happened when I turned six, but all of a sudden I couldn’t read anymore. I lost all confidence, I guess, and I’d basically have an anxiety attack every time I opened a book. I just remember vividly this one afternoon in particular. I was sitting on the couch with my mother, light streaming in from the windows behind us. We were sitting side by side, a picture book spread across our laps, and I was gasping for breath and crying. I don’t remember what my mother said, but I remember her eventually becoming kind of frustrated because I could read, but all of a sudden I was insisting I couldn’t.

Words were my enemy.

I ended up being taken to a child psychologist. He taught me breathing exercises and also did IQ tests on me. I ended up going to a different school, in a programme designed for “gifted” kids (I have never stopped hating that word, but the programme was great). I thrived there, because I had a really, really good teacher, who took a lot of time and effort with me.

I couldn’t spell to save my life, and she helped me with that. She also made me sit and practise my handwriting, which was tedious, but eventually made writing more enjoyable for me. She encouraged all my little projects and ideas. She nurtured my curiosity and helped me learn about all the various things I was interested in. She gave me confidence.

Through the patience of my mother and my teacher, I got my love for reading back. From then on, I read voraciously. I went from that scene on the couch to reading classics within a year or so. It wasn’t long before I was constantly writing stories of my own.

Words became my life.

Why am I even telling you this? Well, I suppose because it’s so easy to assume that if someone loves something, it must have come natural for them from the start. But sometimes that’s not the case, and I think it’s important to share these stories of struggle and triumph with others, as a reminder that we should never give up on something just because it doesn’t come naturally.

Who knows? It could be that thing you struggle with now will later become your passion.

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.

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9 thoughts on “My Struggle With Learning to Read

  1. This is such a lovely post! As a fellow bookaholic I am so glad that you were able to overcome your initial obstacles and grow to love books and words. In general, I find that hearing about people’s struggles and obstacles can be more inspiring than hearing about their achievements, so in a way this serves as a reminder that you’re never born ‘hating’ or ‘loving’ something – our brains are extremely malleable.

    I’m so glad I found your blog! Looking forward to your upcoming posts :).


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a cute story.
    Always nice to remind people that it took work to get to where you’re at.

    Reading has always been easy to me up until the last couple years and now it seems I can’t retain anything I read. So this posts reminds me that it may just be a mental roadblock 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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