Reading

Ron Paul Curriculum, English 1, Lesson 50

Writing assignment: Write 500 words on this topic: “Has any piece of literature affected you in a major way? If so, explain how. If not, explain why not.”

I think the biggest impact a book has ever had on me was to make me like reading. I was four years old when my mom started teaching me. Reading seemed boring and a waste of time (a big mistake, I agree). I hated the mandatory early reader books, which were all basically the same (They were even colored identically). Then I discovered the Magic Tree House series, which changed my opinion completely.

When I was initially learning to read, I was… not into it, and the early readers only made it worse. The up-front time that I would have to spend seemed too much. (I would only grasp the value of lasting benefits over immediate benefits when I read Economics in One Lesson, several years later.) The readers themselves were little more than a collection of vaguely grouped sentences, with images that gave more information than the text itself. I remember the first part of one, which might have been the first book… The rest have blended together:

SAM HAS THE BAT.

SAM HITS THE BALL.

RUN SAM RUN!

PAM HAS THE BAT.

PAM HITS THE BALL.

RUN PAM RUN!

That was the meaning of “Reading practice.” I dreaded it, and they were all nearly the same. Once I mastered the sounds of A through Z, it was just repetition. I had better things to do, such as playing with trains, keeping my little sister happy, and playing Lego Star Wars. Besides, reading was obsolete: even the pictures in the readers themselves, meant to show the importance of reading, conveyed way more information…

Did I mention that there were Sixty of them?

One day, my mom and I must have been at the bookstore, because I had one of the Magic Tree House books. Perhaps I thought that my mom would read it to me. I was wrong. I wound up reading it myself… and I liked the book. It told of two kids, Jack and Annie, climbing into a magic tree house and going to some time and place in history. Wait, what was this book? Jack and Annie existed for more than three pages… They did more than two things… They talked like people… They had thoughts, which the pictures didn’t- couldn’t illustrate. A few days later (I think) I tried another Magic Tree House book. Jack and Annie were still there. They still acted like people. They went somewhere else in the world, at some different time. They had a different adventure… Reading suddenly had value, and it was fun.

It’s hard to think of a bigger impact that a book could have had on me, because if I didn’t like reading, any arguably bigger impact wouldn’t have happened. Fortunately, the early readers are no longer in the house. I hope they’ve been replaced, on the curriculum we were using, with books that help teach reading. Since then, I have read hundreds of other books, more recently the Heinlein Juveniles series, as well as a few Tom Clancy books. None of that would have happened if I didn’t have that initial good experience with the Magic Tree House series.

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