Charley’s World Episode Four

When Charley did his Google search on what it takes to learn to read, he was at first blown away by the language associated with reading development. He realized that he could not be Natty’s reading teacher. Then he sought out information on what it takes to motivate a love of reading. What he discovered was that the motivation for finding joy in reading wasn’t that different from the joy he found in running. That’s where he could help Natty.

Charley believed he would have about 90 minutes with Natty, so he put together a schedule much like his coach had done for him. He wanted to integrate reading and playing with toys to make reading something that was fun and not a task to be done.

Charley met Natty’s bus and she seemed glad to see him. When she got off the bus she bent over to take the book out of her bag that Charley had given her. “Mommy said I have to give this back.” Charley noticed the sad look on her face and said, “Don’t worry. You’ll get another book to take home tonight.”

For the next ninety minutes Natty alternated playing with toys and reading to Charley. As she read to Charley, he would write down some of the words that she read. “What are you doing”, Natty asked. Charley just smiled and said, “You’ll find out in a little bit.”

Charley also observed the words that Natty struggled with. For those, he tried to help her by devising tricks to recognize the types of words she struggled with and ways to understand them. In some cases Natty had never heard the word before and didn’t know what it meant. He copied these down on another piece of paper.

While Charley was not a reading specialist, he did remember how his wife had helped his daughter sound out words. He also taught Natty how to do this. While she probably was taught this in school, Charley believed that Natty was too shy to actually sound out the words.

At close to the end of the 90 minutes, Charley told Natty, “I have this picture in my mind. You are going to become such an excellent reader that your teacher will ask you to read books to kids in pre-school. Wouldn’t that be fun?” Natty had a huge smile on her face.

“Now let’s go over to this wall. You know those words I was writing down. Those are words you know by sight. We’re going to create a word wall. Here, help me post this first piece of paper real high. I think we are going to need the whole wall pretty soon.”

When Nellie arrived, Charley told her what they had done. He showed her the word wall and then handed her another sheet of paper and explained, “These are new words for Natty. Would you ask her to tell you what they mean? When she knows the word, just check it off and give the paper to Natty to bring back to me. We are going to create another wall called: Words I Know.”

As they got ready to leave, Charley handed Nellie another book and said, “I’d like to give you a book as well. This was one of my wife’s. You said you weren’t a good reader. Maybe you just need to read more. A half-hour every day should help.”

As their car rounded the curve, Charley though about how much his life had changed since he met Natty and Nellie. He now had a purpose. And that purpose was soon to expand.

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“Helping others is the way we help ourselves.” – Oprah Winfrey