READING------ I never really thought about how advantaged I am because I can read until coming on mission. I mean, who really thinks about being able to read a newspaper, or a magazine in the doctor’s office, a child’s book or nursery rhyme, an insurance document, the U.S. Constitution, the Pledge of Allegiance, or The Bible? You don’t think about how to do it. You never wonder if the ‘e’ on the end of a word is silent or not. You never think about the sound a double ‘oo’ makes when you read ‘look’ or ‘cool.’ You never think about these things unless you can’t read at all. That’s why we have started working with some of our African members who can't read.
What do you mean they can’t read? They’re adults! Some have teen-age children!
But don’t be too judgmental too fast. Talk to them for just a few minutes and you piece together a sad tale that is hard for them to even talk about. Many were very young when war broke out in their country. Villages were attacked. People were shot or hacked to death or burned alive inside their hut. Families literally ran for their lives, going every which direction. Often family members never made it out, or they got separated but had to keep running through the bush, the swamp, the forest or jungle. No time to look back. Eventually they got to a refugee camp where they may have spent years growing up in conditions that weren’t much better than where they came from. In addition to that, there was no school so they never learned to read. Then one day, some nameless immigration agent came and told them they could come to the United States as a refugee. This was a mixed blessing that involved much more struggle for life or to make a life. No time or money to learn to read.
So in addition to helping some with immigration issues, finding employment or other things we now look for people who cannot read that want to learn. But we don’t know anything about how to teach reading. So of course we looked online and found some good resources and started taking a whack at it. With nothing to teach with we went to Goodwill and bought our first text book----Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss. Little did we know that Seuss starting writing his witty rhyming books to help kids become better readers. All our kids went through Hop on Pop. It’s a fun book that you can almost memorize the whole thing. But it wasn’t until it became our text book that we noticed that the text gets more complex and difficult the further you get into the book. Turns out, all his books are that way and other “learn to read books” use the same technique.
A few times we have called Eileen’s sister Norma Jean who is pretty much an expert at teaching people to read. Tonight she told us of a technique where you read with the student alternating line for line and moving your finger under the words as you read. We will try that next using the scriptures as a text. We will see how that goes.