December 1, 2008
I was a very shy person when I came to the reading program four years ago. I was always afraid people would see I couldn't read. My tutor was Etta, a woman my age. I liked her right away. I couldn't bear to be in the big room with the others, so we worked in a tiny room by ourselves the first two times.
Etta was so patient with me. She started me off with three-letter words. Then two words together, like: big fan, red fox, fat lip. With her help, I read sentences she wrote, like: "Ted fed me chocolates. Then he led me to the bed. His face was red. 'I am afraid', he said, 'that we cannot wed' ".
I had trouble with the letters b and d, so Etta wrote a story for me to fill in the blanks with all b's. Here's a line from the B story: "The next day when Billy went blueberry picking with the Baxters, Bob and Ben painted Billy's boat with bright blue paint." Then there was the letter D story. I was soon doing harder exercises, reading short stories and really enjoying myself.
Etta got me some index tabs to help me find the books of the bible faster. She tested me on finding book, chapter and verse. I was fast! Church was suddenly a whole lot easier.
With Etta I have read about the lives of penguins, those big, funny birds of the Antarctic. I have learned about the busy life of bees and how they make honey - about millions of Monarch butterflies, flying all the way to Mexico every year - and tiny hummingbirds flying far South and back again.
After reading about this in a book, I planted flowers for birds in my back yard - and they came, all kinds of them! Etta came and saw them. There were a lot of birds that day, and butterflies too. She was amazed.
We read about Louis Riel who fought for the rights of the French-speaking native people out West. The government treated him like dirt and hanged him in 1885. He was only 41. It was an awful thing, but I'm glad I learned about it.
The stories of the Halifax Explosion and the sinking of the Titanic were very sad. I have visited the graves where some of the people were buried right here in Halifax.
We read about David Suzuki and the work he does to save the trees and the land. I never knew anything about him. Now I see him on TV all the time. People should listen to him because he's right.
Now I'm reading other learners' stories on the internet, and web sites about wild animals, which I love. The internet is very exciting to me.