Every Wednesday I – tapped my shoes and watched the clock, ready to sprint off.
The door was only three steps away, but I knew I could get there in one if I skipped.
Wednesdays were when my Big Sister, Germaine visited me at school. Up until it was my turn to be matched with a mentor, I was envious of those kids who got the chance to get out of class to look at more picture books and play some unfamiliar-unheard-of board games. Books to me then were just a past-time to avoid being in class twice a week.
I did not think there was much significance in reading other than flipping through pages of National Geographic to stare at animals – or food. In fact, for a really long time, I thought my favourite children’s book author was named ‘Robert Munch’ as I spelled it without the ‘s’ for years.
Having Germaine as my Big Sister changed my perspective. While we started with really fun board games, Germaine eventually began bringing in books for us to read together. I have to say, as an 8-year-old, I felt a bit deceived as the books gradually had fewer and fewer pictures.
When we used to read books together, I read every odd-numbered page, and she read
every even-numbered page.
There was one book that stuck with me. It was about a stuffed rabbit whose
fabric began to wither, and its beaded eyes began to lose their integrity after many
years of being loved. THIS was my first book to own and the first one in my home, and I was obsessed with it.
I remember going to the school library and looking for books after hearing about
Germaine’s travels back and the places she visited with the hope of seeing them in
person one day. Like the stuffed rabbit I read about, I did not mind the physical
conditions of some of the “old” books. I just knew that it be more likely for me to love
them as much as others did in the past. Pictures or not, it did not matter to me. I
suppose this was when I learned that I love to read, learn, and experience new things.
Even the books in our class library began to contain more words than pictures.
Ultimately, my attention forcefully drifted into the words that sat on the palms of my
hands, and my imagination guided the rest. I did not realize that until fifth grade, when
my reading level suddenly jumped from a third-grader level (N) to Z, books – words
became not too bad.