Confessions of a Slow Reader

When I was in first grade my best friend was a voracious reader. I was a tomboy more interested in playing ball that reading a book. I just couldn’t sit still. I didn’t mind getting my work done because the competitive side of me wanted to make an A. I worked as hard and fast as I could right after the teacher gave an assignment so I could have it finished before I went home. There were neighborhood friends at home and I was allowed to play ball if my homework was complete.

The competitive side of me was also measuring myself against others. Each day my friend took home a book from the library and so did I. She returned each day having finished her book and I had not. You could check out another book when you finished the one you took home. The books she checked out from the library got thicker and thicker and thicker. Mine did not. I started to doubt myself as a reader.How could she read so much so fast,” I wondered. For a while I pretended to read books the same thickness as hers but this made me feel bad inside so I stopped. I stopped pretending and I stopped reading everything except what was necessary.

The Irony

Since 2002, I’ve led a classical literature club for home school kids 7-17.  In the beginning I felt like a fraud. I thought, “Only people who love to read would lead a book club.” I kept working at it because my purpose for having the club was for my daughter to obtain her high school English credits and to make friends in our new hometown, 700 miles away from our family and friends.

My insecurity pushed me to study hard. I read about literary elements and techniques, discussion questions and methods and ……. I read really, really, really hard books. For the longest time that 7-year-old small voice in my head whispered, “You can’t do this. You can’t read as good as other people. Who do you think you are leading a book club?”

That was back in 2002. I’m still a much slower reader than my friends and most of the kids in the LITClub are better readers than I am, but I wouldn’t give it up for anything. I’ve made the most amazing friends from our book clubs, seen children blossom into confident critical thinking and speaking individuals, read some awesome classical literature and had a great time. If I can start a LITClub, so can you!

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  1. Of course not everyone ends up doing in life what they love the most or what they think they should be doing. But striving to achieve even a small goal is something worth doing. Leading a book club that you simply enjoy being a part of is that kind of a goal. I really don't think you have to be the best and the fastest reader. Just do what makes you happy. And it seems to me, you already are doing it 🙂



  2. Great story to share. 🙂 There a quite a few voices in my head telling me I'm no good at stuff. I'm not sure I could trace them back to a specific origin, though I bet that would help in overcoming them.

  3. Great story, Ali. For the longest time I believed the whispers about not being "smart enough" for math. After re-learning it to teach the girls I realized it had nothing to do with being smart but just a willingness to work hard.

    Okay, so I lacked the working-hard gene too as a child BUT I wish I had understood that it wasn't a matter of smartness, but persistence.


  4. the voice in my head has always said, "you'll never measure-up. you're not good enough to do x. stop trying." it has always been a battle to fight over that voice. it is every present…you're not pretty enough, not smart enough…not christian enough…not clever enough…not organized enough…

    fortunately, I have learned that, that voice is NOT my heavenly Father! But every time I attempt something new or challenging, it is still there trying to nag me and prevent me from moving on with new challenges.

    the verse i wrote on two of my grandchildrens' quilts about 5 yrs. ago says this: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 Encouraging words:)

  5. Your words are encouraging, Martha.

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