When I was in the ninth grade, I would spend hours and hours up in my room reading books such as The Boxcar Children and Little House on the Prairie. My love of stories was never a problem and my dad (who didn’t know a lot about child development in the traditional sense) was grateful that I “enjoyed” reading and would put so much attention toward the subject. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the ENTIRE reality of the situation…
The truth was this – by today’s standards, The Boxcar Children is suitable for an advanced third grade reader and the Little House on the Prairie books range between fourth and fifth grade reading levels. As I mentioned before, I was in the ninth grade, which means that if I had so chosen to read those books at that stage in my life, it should have taken me about 30 minutes to get through the entire book. Instead, I spent hours and hours of circling words I couldn’t figure out and trying to match them up in the dictionary. Retaining information through reading was an embarrassing challenge for me.
Luckily, my drama teacher saw beyond my struggles and detected deeper issues.
Get this: she made me the cue person and stage manager of the fall production of Hamlet! People must have thought she was nuts! I now understand how *brilliant* this was. You see, she put me in a position that was empowering, utilized my strength (which was my ability to remember what I heard in class), and paired it with my weakness: reading. Additionally, seeing the other children act out the story while I was motivated to keep up with the lines of the script made it easier to grasp the plot and storyline. As Stage Manager, I gained the confidence to take on responsibility for something that was bigger than me and my “reading problem.”