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An Early Lesson In Literacy: A Personal Story

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An Early Lesson In Literacy  A Personal Story john tenniel the shower of cards illustration from alice in wonderland by lewis carroll 224x300 jpgI come from a family of avid readers so as a child, some of my earliest memories are of the stacks of books on our coffee and dining room table. I remember particularly liking the smell of the books that my grandparents got from the library, the cracked spines and folded pages catching my interest just as I was learning to read myself.

I was five years old when my father took me to the library for the first time, pointing out the various sections and telling me that the staff could produce any book that I wanted. My father is a big Lewis Carroll fan and used to read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to me quite often. Standing between two shelves, he asked me which book I wanted and I remember reciting the title that was practically seared into the back of my brain. I wanted Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, despite that we owned a copy.

He consented and flagged down a library assistant, telling me that I should do the same until I mastered the card catalogue. Because I was so little, it’s difficult for me to gauge or recall the exact age of the woman who came to help us. I remember her being shorter than my father and having black hair. He told her the title of the book and we followed her around a series of shelves until my father raised the question as to why were in the “D” aisle.

I remember a lot of moments from my childhood quite vividly, but at the top of the list will always be the way she turned back at us and said, ” ‘D’ for Disney.”

My father’s horror at such a gross literary faux pas wasn’t something he bothered to contain, and taking my hand, we promptly exited the library and walked straight to the car. On the ride home, taking sharp turns back towards our house, he told me that Walt Disney never actually wrote any of the original stories that I had seen as animation. Those were called “adaptations” and that was a term he wanted me to learn now rather than later.

(photo: art.com)

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