The Little Boy who Could Read!


The Little Boy who Could Read!

boy reading

The Little Boy who could read

Richard Hollerman

Every night Dad or Mother would read a Bible story for our “family devotions” that were a regular part of our nighttime ritual. Maybe it was Dad’s night. He would take the story book into his large and kind hands, open it to the right place, and announce the title before he began reading. Somehow, as he read, the characters of the Bible came to life and were real people. He had a way of impersonating the character of the story who was speaking. Night by night, month by month, and year by year we children would have a regular intake of interesting and life-forming stories from God’s own Word. Sometimes it was Mother who would tell the stories to her little brood of children—Don, my little brother; Doris, my young sister; and then there was me, the oldest of the three.

Sometimes also there would be story reading at our bedside. When it was time to retire for the night, Mother would take a story book in hand as she sat on the side of the bed. We children would lie in our beds, with heads on clean, white pillows, and covers up to our chin. She would fascinate us with such stories as we listened to Mother lovingly reading words that were both informative and calming. Then we were ready for the lights to go out as we drifted into a night of slumber.

When I was six years old, I went to first grade. There was no kindergarten in those days, so first grade was our first opportunity to pursue academics. My first grade teacher was Miss. McElwain, a woman who never married but who devoted her life to her little ones. Miss McElwain was my father’s second or third cousin but that didn’t concern me. I loved my teacher so much that I wanted to marry her!

This teacher was responsible for opening up the amazing world of reading to me. She taught the elements of the A, B, and Cs to every bright-eyed, eager student who graced her classroom. To this day, I can remember the capital letters and lower case letters along the top of the blackboard that would give us an example of what we needed to know. We were expected to learn those letters—and we did. Those were the days of the “Dick and Jane” books that were used to teach millions, maybe tens of millions, of American students to read. We were fascinated that the stories of Dick, Jane, Spot, and Puff could actually be read from the characters or letters we were learning.

boy reading

The little boy who could read

I can recall sitting on the couch in our little living room in our tiny Pennsylvania village of Ellport. Beside me was my mother or maybe it was my father. A “Dick and Jane” book lay opened on my lap. I looked at the figures inscribed on the pages and tried to pronounce the letters, as I had been taught. The sounds, the syllables, the words, and then phrases slowly came from my little lips. “Dick ran.” “Jane walked.” “Spot jumped.” “Puff came.” Could it be? Yes, it was! I was reading!

Since that time, I have been a life-time avid reader. I’ve read thousands of articles and books. But it all began in Miss McElwain’s first grade class in Ellport Elementary School. I never married my first grade teacher, but I learned from her—and I’ve valued reading ever since!

(Note: The photos above are not ones of me and my childhood.)

Comments are closed.