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Confessions from a Poor Reader

by Katie Jane

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Katie says: I'm a fourteen year old freshman from Wisconsin who doesn't have much published but is trying hard. I have a love for tea and baking, and a large dream of someday graduating from The University of Oxford.

            When you’re reading, is it difficult? Do you stumble on the words? Do you find yourself re-reading paragraphs because you didn’t understand them the first time? Do the idioms and oxymoron’s confuse you? Well you’re not alone, because this is what happened to me the first time that I ever read the book A Christmas Carol.

            I remember the first time that my teacher asked me to take A Christmas Carol home, in sixth grade. I was excited, ready to read the oh-so-famous book by Charles Dickens. But when I got home and opened the soft-covered book, I was met with new words and a language that I didn’t comprehend. Although the text was written in plain English, the words and sentences were new to me. The author used figurative language, with sentences such as ‘Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.’ And spelled things in a way my brain couldn‘t grasp, like honour. I tried reading the book, but the words got jumbled and messed up, so I found myself reading paragraphs over and over, until I finally knew what the author was telling me.

            Eventually, I could understand what I was being told, but this took hours each night, until I was far behind my classmates. I went to class each day, pretending to be at the same level as everyone else, but secretly I was behind in my reading, barely starting the chapters we‘d been assigned. Everyone would be talking about the symbolism of the ghost of Christmas present, where I would be sitting quietly, wondering who he was.  But, being the stubborn girl that I was, I never asked my mom, or my teacher, Mrs. Smith, for help, or even for Mrs. Smith to give me extra days to read. So each night I stayed up, trying to finish my assignment before bed.

            Then, the weekend before the big unit test, I found myself reading, reading, and reading. Trying to finish the last chapters before school started on Monday, so then at least I might have a chance to pass. I was constantly frustrated, annoyed that I had to miss the premiere of the new Sonny with a Chance, and instead sit on my bed reading muddled sentences and miss-spelled words. I found my self close to tears, kicking myself for not asking my teacher for help. But I read until, finally, I got to the end.

            Did I know what I had read? Yes, I did. Although it was hard to remember, if you asked me who Ebenezer Scrooge’s nephew was, I’d say Fred. I also learned to understand the oxymorons and idioms. I knew the characters and the plot, although I wasn’t entirely sure if I would be able to get a good grade. But, I knew enough to pass. So when I got my test back, I didn’t at all expect to see the large A written on the top of the snow colored page. I was overly excited, happy that I all my work had paid off. That all the cramming, and staying up late had done me some good.

            So now, I will always thank Mrs. Smith for assigning me and my classmates that book, because it taught me that the oddest things can be understood. Whether a book, or a speech for the president. No matter how hard something seems, or how long it takes to complete, it will all pay off. Now, whenever I look at something that seems a little too big, and the words a little too odd, I just think back to sixth grade, and I know that I can beat it.

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