Frederick Douglas stated that “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free. The feeling of freedom and satisfaction that I felt on October 22nd of 2006 is a feeling that happens once in a lifetime. October 22nd is the day that I read my first ever book, and a day that I will always clearly remember. I remember hearing the sounds of the birds chirping in the background, and the sun shining bright through my open windows. It was the early morning time, which is the best time, as per my parents, because the brain is “fresh.” I leaned for the shelf of books to the right and grabbed the bookmarked Magic Tree House book. I then reached for my fuzzy cartoon network pillow and placed it behind me for a backrest. I was that first grader that had to be comfortable in order to focus. If I wasn’t comfortable, it would take me up to an hour to solve just a basic multiplication problem. Comfort was key. As I stared at the Kobe Bryant basketball poster in front of me, I peer down at the cover of the book, and take in one deep breath. Before even starting to read, I was visualizing my reaction of turning the last page. I begin reading.
While maintaining deep focus towards the text, I can remember hearing my door crack open. It was my mom peeking through and asking me, “What page are you on?” My parents were as excited as I was, however, their constant interferences hindered my focus. They had been waiting for this day years ago. With an older sister that began to read one hundred to two hundred-page books from the age of 2, my parents could never understand why their son did not pick up reading as fast. It was a mystery to them, which created lots of frustration. Year after year they would encourage me to keep reading because they felt that the more I “forced myself” to read, the sooner I would learn. My dad thought I had a disability. My mom thought I had a disability. They were both wrong. Reading did not come naturally to me. However, by reading at my own pace, I grew to discover a love for reading. I found an interest in fictional stories and would start to read two to three books a day. As they say, “slow and steady wins the race.” This is a phrase that I live by and hope to continue to live by as life moves forward. Certain things may not come easy to everyone, but once you find the passion, nothing becomes difficult or impossible.
Now, returning to the story: In trying to regain my focus, I would take a look around my room. I would notice the NFL-themed bedsheets I was laying on, and the Mickey Mouse clock placed above my many soccer participation trophies. If you can’t tell by now, I was a very distracted child.
After taking this minor break that I would like to claim was caused by my mom, I reach for my novel and commit to keeping my eyes glued to the pages till I finish. Minutes pass, and the pages keep turning. I would constantly turn in different directions to find my comfort spot within these minutes, but I would not lose attention to the story. By around 8:30 am, as per my Mickey Mouse clock, I read the final three words on the last page. There were no more pages to turn. I was done.
The feeling of accomplishment overcame my mind and body. I was ecstatic. I remember sprinting downstairs, with the book in hand. I screamed, “I finished, I finished.” My parents, patiently waiting for me on the couch, began jumping. They recognized what their 6-year-old son has just done. He has just read his first book. The celebration seemed almost equivalent to someone who had just won the Nobel Peace Prize. My dad picked me up and swayed me in the air, while my mom would lean and kiss me on the cheek. I could say that this was my first feeling of accomplishment in my life, so I didn’t mind the extra love and excitement.
I would always remember this day, because as I grow older, my appreciation for books, and the skill to read, would increase. As a first grader, it is hard to value reading my first book because I am only a first grader. To my parents, they saw it as the beginning of my literature career. I was to no longer be afraid of reading entire novels and would start to embrace the beauty of learning through books, and the importance of reading.
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