My Road to Reading

Jill Hayward, Literacy Outreach Coordinator in Barriere, BC, wrote to us in January, 2016 to send a story about one of her learners.

“She is a mom who did a great job of caring for and raising her family…until they were old enough to successfully go out into the world on their own,” she wrote.

While this sounds like the achievements of a typical mother raising children, there was a difference between this mother and others – this particular individual worked on composing the story below for more than two months.

“Amazingly,” Jill continued, “she completed this with a very limited ability to read. Something she very much wanted to be able to do once she had the time to learn; and now she has done that.”

According to Jill, this mother is an amazingly fast learner who has a “passionate thirst” to learn.

However, the mother was very clear that she did not want her name published, because she didn’t want friends and family to judge her or look at her differently.

This hesitation is typical of many adult learners who do not want others around them – even close friends and relatives – to know that they struggle with reading and writing.

Unlike many who hide their limitations for years, this learner made the courageous decision to approach her local literacy program – the Barriere and Area Literacy Outreach.

The choice was the right one for her. As she writes in her story, “You have no idea how this has changed my life!”

“I am so proud of this lady,” Jill concluded in her email. “Although she had a great amount of help to put this [story] together, it is in her own words, and it truly does come from the heart.”


My Road to Reading

By: A Mom

Do you know how amazing and absolutely empowering it is to be able to look at a computer screen, pick up a newspaper to see the front page, or choose the title of a book off a shelf?

If you are thinking “this person must have a vision problem” you are wrong!

My problem was being illiterate when it came to being able to read the written word! I could speak just fine, but I could not read!

Can you imagine how hard it is when one must stumble through life on a daily basis trying to be inconspicuous, avoiding situations that require reading, pretending to understand what is written even when you have absolutely no idea what it is all about, and even being afraid to sign your name to something because that piece of paper is meaningless to you.

Documents, job applications, school permission slips, health questionnaires, bills, bank statements and even greeting cards – just think for a moment about how many things you read in a day that are important; then think how many things you read in a day that are just there – television, signs, flyers, what is on the products and cans in your kitchen cupboards, what is in your vanity cabinet or bathroom, and so on, and so on.

Now try to imagine not understanding any of it – at all!

That was my life – until two years ago when I found it was possible for a mom with two grown kids to finally learn how to read.

My whole life I had been fudging my way along without reading. I failed miserably in school – how do you complete reading assignments, take a written test, or write an essay if you cannot read.

My teachers thought I was mentally challenged, and maybe I was due to the frustration of just not being able to comprehend. The harder I tried the more frustrated I became and I eventually I became such an emotional wreck I think everyone just gave up on me. I even gave up on myself.

But once my kids were on their way with lives of their own, I decided this was going to be my last chance to learn to read.

So I called Barriere and Area Literacy Outreach and my life has changed.

I have now been working with them for two years in a tutor program that is very affordable – it is free!

You have no idea how this has changed my life!

I am so much more confident in myself, I can read the newspaper, I can use the computer at the library, and I can talk to my grandkids on Facebook!

Now I am working on writing essays and stories, and one day I plan to write a book about my road to reading. It has really been a wonderful trip and I have no intention of ending it!

Note: The writers name has been kept anonymous at her request.

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