The Wizard of Oz Saved my Brain

L. Frank Baum- The Wizard of Oz

He used to tower over me. This large man who was really my teddy bear. He would say my prayers and tuck me in at night. The top of his head was shiny, missing the reddish brown hair from the past. He was mine. I was his little girl. I looked up to him. I wanted to be just like him. He is where I get my love for reading, my dad the man that protects me from harm, the one that would read me that extra story when my mom said no more that it was time for bed. My dad was my personal Wizard of Oz. I always went and still do go to him with any problem that I have.

When I started liking to read no one really noticed until I was sitting in class one day at that time I was in second grade. We were reading these little stories during literacy time, and I told my teacher “I love reading”. She sent me home that day with a letter to my father, explaining what I had told her, and that she believed that it would be beneficial to me to start reading more at home. The catch was that my teacher did not want me to just read. She wanted it to be a challenge. In fact, she did not want me to be able to read the book but instead work up to it. So my father did just that. On his way home from work the following day he stopped by the book store and picked up a book. The Wizard of Oz was the title, so that night before bed we read, at the beginning it was just him reading to me, it was the hope that by the end I would be able to read it on my own.

My love of reading disappeared when it came to reading in school. It wasn’t something that I enjoyed, it was something that I began to dread. We would go around in a circle and have to read out loud which I really did not enjoy. It wasn’t because I didn’t love to read, it was because I was forced to do it. I mostly hated reading out loud because I had a stuttering issue that I often got made fun of for, eventually I was ashamed to read out loud. I was the kid that everyone got annoyed at when reading out loud because I could not read smoothly. I would start to shake, moving back and forth in my seat when the teacher approached me telling me it was my turn to read.

At home, I continued reading with my dad every night and loved every moment of it, though I stuttered I didn’t mind. I never wanted to stop reading, it was our time that could not be interrupted. It was the one moment in the day that I was not worried about stuttering, I was with my dad doing something that we loved and loved even more because it was something that we could do together. If it wasn’t for my Wizard of Oz, I wouldn’t love reading the way that I do. If it wasn’t for that brief period of time in my life I wouldn’t care about grades, I wouldn’t care about school, I wouldn’t think about my future. The Wizard of Oz truly did save my brain. Every night when we would read I got a little further down the yellow brick road. Going down the road of reading never really being able to tell where it ends, taking all the twists and turns characters coming in and out of story lines. It was my safe haven, sitting curled up in the crook of my dad’s arms in my fuzzy dinosaur onesie as he read to me, in that moment I could live forever. It was moments like that, that made me love to read.

Having the memories from my childhood about reading has saved my connection. If I didn’t have my positive memories of reading every night, and I only had the memories of reading at school I would not have the relationship that I have now. The years went by and I still hated reading in school but thrived at home. My dad and I now will sit in the living room each reading our own books. Sometimes we will randomly tell each other a really good part of the book, whether it be something as silly as a piece of dialogue or the plot of the story. My dad and I can go on for hours reading, we will read full books in weekends. Reading is a bond that we have shared my whole life and it is one of the most meaningful memories that I have with my dad.

Reading that one book didn’t just make me love reading, it opened a door for me, a door that would never be shut again. Now sitting in a room surrounded by books, writing about how I begun to read and the hardships that came with the new adventure that I had embarked on. Every story is different just like every person’s story is different. Like a story there can be many different endings, with many twists and turns. My story could have ended drastically different if it weren’t for my second grade teacher, Mrs. McCalester sending home a letter to my parents telling them about my love for reading. If it wasn’t for her all I would have of reading is the memories at school. Reading out loud while a group of girls in the back corner snickered at one another, looking at me like I was stupid, not for what I was saying but for the way that I spoke. Something that you have no control over. I am forever grateful to Mrs. McCalester, it was not only my father who gave me my love for learning and reading, but also her. She gave me the push that I needed to get started. The push that would start a landslide, that would start an avalanche of words and phrases new and old. The stories never ending, just new paths beginning as you travel down the ever winding path of learning.