A giant leap: Cracking the reading code

Text: Solveig Hansen

23 April is World Book Day. A day to promote the enjoyment of books and reading. Every child has the right to experience that joy.

“Storytelling is an incredibly effective tool when it comes to educating younger generations. Indeed, books are vital vehicles to access, transmit and promote education, science, culture, and information worldwide. For this reason, every year, on 23 April — a date that marks the departure of three great authors of universal literature, Miguel de Cervantes, William Shakespeare, and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega — we celebrate their captivating power to spark innovation, generate knowledge and change minds.”

Do you remember the moment when you cracked the reading code? I remember when I did.

I was five when I finally figured it out. And about time too, if you ask me. I remember how frustrated I had been because I knew all the letters but I just couldn’t combine them into words.

One day I made an extra effort and read each letter in a story slowly, slowly, pronouncing them and trying to put them together: a-a-a l-l-l… Then, all the sudden, the door flung open, letters formed into words, words formed into stories. You know how it is when the fog lifts and you suddenly see the vast landscape around you, or when you draw back the curtains in the morning to have a first look over a new city you arrived at only the night before… that’s how it felt, looking back.

It was a life-changing moment. I became a reader from one second to the next, literally. One instant I was just an ordinary earthly child, the next an explorer in a new world that opened up before me. I know exactly what Neil Armstrong must have felt the moment he put his foot on the lunar surface. A giant leap. Nothing less.

Not that I reflected on it at the time. I did not cheer, I did not even bother to tell anyone about my new-found skills. I just felt a silent satisfaction and thought, “Finally. About time.”

The first thing I read was a Donald Duck magazine. I lay flat on my back.


“I Met a Dragon Face to Face” by Jack Prelutsky:

Image: Pixabay.com

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