Friends have asked me how Kirstin learned to read. I tell them she learned in school like everyone else, but there really is more to the story. Some of the ladies at our church wanted to give the credit to Kirstin’s Sunday school teacher. All of a sudden it seemed that Kirstin was able to read the little Sunday school books. Kirstin’s teacher, Mrs. Mobley, was somewhat upset with this version of the story, and rightly so, as she had been working with Kirstin for two years. Of course, Mrs. Mobley deserves the credit. She had a wonderful reading program called Edmark and all the faith in the world that her students could learn to read.
Much of the credit goes to Kirstin herself. I like to tell people that Kirstin learned to read by shear force of will. As her skills improved, she read every word she saw. This meant that she read all the credits at the end of a movie or television program. If we ate in a restaurant, Kirstin had to read the entire menu. Once again we found ourselves being held hostage in restaurants. Kirstin read signs, billboards and posters. She read and read until she could read almost anything.
Reading has been an important part of my life since I was a small child. Now that I had a daughter who loved reading, I wanted to share my favorites with her. I enjoyed Beezus and Ramona, and all the Judy Blume books. Doctor Doolittle was also one of my favorites. Kirstin wanted nothing to do with my suggestions. Instead, she discovered her favorites on her own. Her ultimate love was The Baby-Sitter’s Club. One after another, she read them as fast as they were being published. The characters in The Baby-Sitter’s Club became real people in our household. Kirstin told us about them in great detail. One day I noticed Kirstin doing something sneaky, so I thought I had better check it out. On one of the pages of The Baby-Sitter’s Club book there was an advertisement for babysitting services, complete with the phone numbers of the club members. Kirstin was on the phone trying to contact someone in the club.
In 1996, Ann Martin came to Prescott for a book signing. We took Kirstin and her friend Angela to the bookstore where it was being held. There was a very long line that encircled the building, and we waited for hours. Kirstin had difficulty find a new book to buy for Ms. Martin to sign, because she already had most of them. Finally, it was her turn. Maybe it was my imagination, but it seemed that Ms. Martin spent a little more time talking to Kirstin than she did with the others. It is one of Kirstin’s fondest memories.
Kirstin’s Side of the Story: I read every day. I like to read books that are exciting or funny. I like to read love stories because I’m in love with David. I do read history, romance, scary books, and mysteries. The characters in the stories make mistakes and learn from their mistakes. I learn from their mistakes too.
If I couldn’t read, my life would be boring. I would not have been able to read The Baby-Sitter’s Club or the Avonlea books. I have to do some reading at work and in church. If I couldn’t read, I wouldn’t be as independent, because someone would have to help me. I have been able to read Facebook and Livemail, so I know what my friends are doing. I sent my boss a music video on Facebook. I had to read to figure it out by myself. My mom said she doesn’t know how to do that, but I can because I can read.
If someone is having trouble learning to read, I would tell them not to give up. You can do it if you put your mind to it. Read as much as you can and you’ll get better at it. We all have problems. Yours is learning to read, but you can solve it. Find a good teacher who will help you and never give up on you.
From This Little Light of Mine, A woman with Down syndrome shines brightly in the world. This book is available on Amazon