In 1st grade, Ms. Howard sent a note home one day. I couldn’t read it. Apparently, that was exactly the problem.
My mom and brother sat with me that night and dictated a few words. I remember them explaining in Spanish how to read in English: “Esto dice mar-ti… ‘Marty’. Esto dice ‘Pepe’.” It was a story about two dogs, and I waned to know more! Suddenly, everything made sense. The next day, I went to school and read almost an entire textbook to the teacher’s aide (and a library of dog books throughout the following years).
In 2nd grade, our teacher challenged us to write a story. I wrote “The Day Santa Clause Lost His Button,” a story of how Santa’s elves helped him through this fashion hiccup. Ms. Stalcup loved it so much, she read it out loud to the whole class, and they all laughed and laughed. I had apparently misspelled “button” as “bottom”. I didn’t point out the correction at the moment; it was good to make them smile and laugh.
In middle school, sensitive Ms. Sweetin, in the midst of a team of straight from-the-hood potential drop-outs (yeah, I was there), asked us to write about who we would be for a day. I couldn’t think of anyone else I wanted to be, so I came up with whatever I could think of. It ended up being a purposely super-cheesy essay on being Cinderella for a day to bring smiles to kids’ faces. And she read it out loud. To the class. That I was physically in at the time of reading. I was mortified! Right after class, one of the “hoodlum” boys came up to me; the essay had struck a chord with him. I was realizing the power of words.
I had written down somewhere as a goal, write a book, but it was more of a just-for-the-sake-of-writing-a-goal kind of thing, since I had no clue what I would write about. Still, the words were there, though waaay in the back of my mind.
To be continued…