How are ya'll tonight? Come in in by the fire and have a hot cup of coffee and some apple cake just out of the oven. This is a good night to finish the book I'm reading. Then I have about 20 others to read because I am a bookaholic and have to have a library waiting on me. Now that I am retired from the school library I just have to have my own so I joined Paperbackswap.com. This is an online book swap and I support it a lot so have a whole host of books to read and a wish list waiting. Just can't have too many books.
I inherited my love of reading my mama and her daddy, our Granddaddy Burt Williamson. Mama introduced us to all the Grimms Fairy Tales, Mother Goose, The Bobbsey Twins, Lousia Mae Alcott's books and many others. Granddaddy introduced me to Zane Grey and lots of westerns and Miss Scotty at the small public library helped me read all the books in those 2 rooms and needless to say, I have not stopped.
One of the biggest influences on my reading habit was my first grade teacher, "Miss Elise Hickey." She taught me to read and to enjoy reading. She was just about the same size as her students and weighed about 95 pounds soaking wet but had complete control over her about 50 students. We were the largest class to come to the school for we were the first "war babies." Did all those children intimidate her? Not on your life, she intimidated the heck out of us. She was little but potent and took no foolishness from us plus all she had to do was call our mamas and they would apply the switch to the backside.
Although she was strict, she was fair and loving and was a teacher's teacher. She taught until she was almost 70, I think, and spent the last years tutoring in reading. She loved to read and loved teaching others how to read and enjoy it. She had us divided into reading groups named for bird's colors - redbirds, bluebirds and yellowbirds. These were leveled by our reading abilities though I don't think we realized that was what she was doing or if we did, it didn't bother us. Remember this was in the "olden days" before Special Ed., Title One, and all the other title programs. We were all in the same room and "Miss Elise" expected all of us to learn what she had to teach and we did.
She would seat her little self in the front of the room on a little stool, call our bird group to sit in a semi-circle around her on the floor like an Indian and learn our letters, sounds and then how to read. Phonics was her key to teaching us and it worked. She had a flash card with each letter of the alphabet and she would hold them in her hands and show us a card at which time we all in one accord said the name of the letter and gave its sound just like little birds. It was a lovely sound for we all were right in time with the flip of the cards and the tap of her toes. She set the rhythm and we followed right along. This was every day and then she added words on flash cards such as the, at, run, Jane, Spot and all the other words from the Dick and Jane books and THEN - the books!!!!! We could READ - a magical time for me.
We each had a Dick and Jane reader and we sat around Miss Elise and took our turn reading a page aloud. I can hear those little voices now reading - "Look, Dick. See Puff jump. Look and see. Run, Spot. Run, run, run. Oh, oh, oh. Funny, funny Spot. Look, Jane, look. See Baby Sally. Puff is my baby, see Puff. Look, Father, Look, Mother Sally is little. Little Baby Sally." It was MAGIC! Letters made words and words painted pictures and a whole new world was opened to us and I have never left it. I still like to make letters into words and words into pictures.
For those of a younger generation and Dick, Jane, Sally, Puff, Tim, Spot, Mother and Father were not in your lives, you missed a lot. Now it would be politically wrong, gender biased, and every other bias you could think of, but to us it was wonderful. I found a Dick and Jane calendar several years ago and it has become one of my treasures and I would love to have one of the old readers but I still have these words ringing in my ears never to be forgotten.
Thank you, "Miss Elise" for you taught a whole bunch of us how to read, write and do arithmetic. Needless to say, reading was her favorite and I'm so glad I experienced her and her love of learning for she encouraged me to do the same. Soooo, maybe that is why I became a school librarian/media specialist and still love to read.
The Georgia Peach