Painful Climb to Literacy

Roman Milert-Dreamstime Photos

Roman Milert-Dreamstime Photos

For those that find reading difficult, the climb to literacy can be painful. Teacher and writer Mikalena Zuckett from West Virginia gives us insight.

“Literacy is close to my heart,” Mikalena tells us. “When I was in college, my dad got tired of calling all three of his college student children, “educated dumb asses.”  This name calling was his way of hiding from his inability to read and write. We all knew that, but it still hurt. Apparently Dad was hurting too. One day he saw a literacy volunteer’s ad on TV and called. He secretly met with a tutor for almost a year. However, the secret was hard to keep. Mom thought he was cheating on her! He had to confess to save his marriage.

“Mom knew his tutor and so did I. To pay my way through college I had worked for her family providing care for the literacy volunteer’s mother a few years earlier. That made this all the more precious to me. I had put my heart into caring for her mom and then she put her heart into teaching my father to read.

“Dad only had a 3rd grade reading level and dropped out of high school when he was in the 9th grade. With that low of a reading level and lots of challenges at home, he couldn’t even manage to stay in a trade school. Still he expected in one year of tutoring to go from that 3rd grade reading level to a high school diploma. When he only managed to raise his reading level from 3rd to 5th grade, he was devastated. Nothing I could say would make him see what an amazing achievement he had made or how unrealistic his expectation had been.

“Sadly my father was diagnosed with lung cancer before anyone could convince him to continue with his Literacy Volunteers of America tutoring. He died about nine months later.

“Sharon, I hope you will seed the idea of volunteering to listen to kids read at school. Sadly, some parents do not listen to their children read and it shows. I’ve seen students benefit greatly by volunteers who come to school just to hear them read. We can’t let them be left behind like my dad had been.”

I’m so grateful that you shared your story with us, Mikalena.

If any of you have read the second page of this blog you’ll know that I have also taken part in the painful climb to literacy.

Have you taken the climb or been touched by it?

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One Response to Painful Climb to Literacy

  1. Susan Davis says:

    Mikalena…what a touching story – Sharon thanks so much for bringing this to even greater light by sharing.

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