“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one.”
― George R. R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons
As a young child I hated to read. Despised might be a better word.
If you look at me now, you’ll see I wear glasses. Very thick glasses. I also have contact lenses, which work better than the glasses. But back when I was five or six, I didn’t have either. All people saw were my strange blue eyes that constantly moved. My world was always blurry. But you know, I thought that was the norm.
So while teachers were going over the ABC song—which I learned with no problem—I couldn’t actually SEE the letters. Some of my teachers thought I was retarded because I couldn’t identify letters. Others thought I was just being a smart mouth, but no one put my eye problem together with my academic failures. It wasn’t until third grade folks caught on.
So there was this rush to get me caught up. Large print books. Extra teachers. Extra reading classes. Extra homework. Like that was supposed to make me embrace school?
Then there was my primary third grade teacher-Mrs. Cox. She made her class read all the time. Her philosophy was, if you can read and write, you can rule the world one day.
I hated her. And…I liked her. She pushed. She taught tough love. She taught me to read. And that one year changed everything. Then I stumbled on a story called, The Witch’s Buttons by Ruth Chew—it ignited my imagination. In my mind, she is the mother of all urban fantasy.
I read that book so many times it fell apart, and my mom threw it away. I knew it had gone out of print, but on a lark I hit search on Amazon and there were some copies for sale. I know it sounds weird, but when I think of that book—that sits on the shelf next to my desk—it brings me back to third grade. The year that changed my life forever, and the challenges I overcame.