From a Field of Grass to a Jungle

By Jeffrey Park, 2020-2021 Literacy First Tutor

As a Literacy First tutor, I have had the pleasure of seeing the growth of many students on their reading journeys, but one particular story comes to mind. 

Liam was the very first student I tutored with Literacy First. He had been enrolled in the program in the previous year, but had his reading journey cut short due to COVID-19 school closures. At the time I met Liam, he was over a year behind grade level fluency. 

It was clear in our lessons that Liam wanted to do well, but had already internalized that he was not a “good reader.” When he did succeed in a lesson, I saw the positive emotional impact of that success.

Learning to read is a lot like watching grass grow. If you sit there and stare at it, the grass never moves. But, when you look away for a second and come back with a ruler, you’ll see that the grass did, in fact, get taller. Leave for a bit longer, come back and measure, and now you’re walking through a jungle, instead of a field of grass.

Since Liam could physically see his reading success grow on his weekly progress graph, his perception of himself as a reader slowly began to shift. I will never forget the first time I witnessed Liam feel proud of himself. When I showed him the progress he had made that week on his graph, his first question was if he could show his mother.

I am grateful to be a part of Literacy First and moments of pride like these. This year alone, Liam and hundreds of other growing readers will develop the confidence and the skills necessary to succeed. And that’s something for which we can all be proud.

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