1 Sept 2020
“Ms Ong, my teacher asked me to be Reading Mentor to next year’s Primary Ones,” First Tutee announced, his talcum powdered face beaming on my computer screen.
“Wow! That’s a big responsibility for 2021!” I exclaimed, and asked him to give his future reading mentee a name. After some thought, he came up with the name “Irfan.”
“How would Irfan know that you’re fit to be his Reading Mentor? Do you even own books?” I asked.
First Tutee quickly got up from his chair and dug out all his books from the bookshelf behind him.
He brought “Navaan,” to the screen and waved it triumphantly at me.
“Navaan,” was the first book he brought on his first day to school when he started primary one in 2018.
“So you own books. But can you read?” I challenged him.
Without hesitation, he turned to the first page of “Navaan” and read aloud confidently from cover to cover. He did not skip words. He read the baby elephant, Navaan’s speeches with great animation. He was unstoppable.
“But what will you do if Irfan still refuses to read and kicks up a fuss?” I continued.
“I’ll say to him, ‘Calm down now, Irfan. We’re going to read this!’” First Tutee responded firmly, mimicking the way he was spoken to when he was once a reluctant reader.
For some kids, reading happens easily, but for many, progress may be slow.
The boy who used to struggle with differentiating “him” from “his” when he was 7, has moved passed his reading challenges to take on multisyllabic words at 9. Come 2021, he’ll be guiding someone to read just as he was guided before.
As we enter the month of September and into the last quarter of 2020, may I wish all adults the blessing to use their authority with kindness, and hold space for children to evolve from reluctant readers to resourceful readers.
And may I wish all struggling young readers the courage to continue trying, no matter what the result slip says. ♥️