Reading Can Change Your Life ...

Upon completion of the second grade, I was sent home with a note to my mother informing her that I would have to attend summer school to improve my reading skills. I did not want to go because Mrs. Cousins was a tough, demanding teacher and I was supposed to be on vacation. But my mother made me go and so I did. By summer's end a minor miracle had occurred. Mrs. Cousins had taught me phonics. For the first time in my life it was possible to figure out how to read and pronounce words by myself and reading wasn't something scary that made me feel stupid.

The following summer I began reading Robinson Crusoe. I was a painfully slow reader but determined to read my first book cover to cover. It took several hours a day, every day, all summer to complete that book but I achieved my goal. I began checking books out of the library, usually five or six at a time, never finishing more than one and always returning them late. But I read and read and read.

At thirteen I started wearing glasses to correct near-sightedness and astigmatism. Still an extremely slow reader, I enrolled myself in an adult, night class on speed-reading. In six weeks I went from reading 50 to 250 words per minute. About that time, our local newspaper ran a series of articles on Amelia Earhart and I read every one of them and so discovered my first hero. Reading opened my eyes to the world of adventure.

After college I began a career as a respiratory therapist. Inspired by other people's stories I read in books, I began having my own real-life adventures - hiking, sailing, and dog mushing. At forty-four, after reading Across Arctic America, I decided it was time to have my own really big adventure by retracing the journey described in that book. At forty-six, I did it! My dogs and I traveled 2,500 miles alone across the arctic.

Now I earn my living speaking and writing. Learning to read changed my life and has given me years of education, entertainment, and adventure. Still a slow reader, I sometimes read kids' books about adventures and biographies just for the pleasure of reading an entire book quickly and easily.

Thanks to Mrs. Cousins, a pair of glasses and a speed-reading course, I can read well. If you or someone you know has difficulty reading, seek help, find out what's wrong and try to fix the problem. Reading can change your life, too.

Pam Flowers
Talkeetna, AK





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