This weekend I had the privilege of attending my niece’s wedding.  It was such a wonderful weekend.  We laughed, we cried and of course, we ate lots of great food.  I enjoy so many things at a wedding.  I love seeing friends and family that I don’t see every day.  I love wedding cake (those who know me, know I am not lying). I love watching the groom as he watches his bride walk down the aisle toward him.    But there is something at weddings that I do not enjoy.  Speeches!  It’s not that I don’t like to listen to what everyone has to say but some people tend to talk longer then they normally would.   Some tell stories that are only funny to themselves but mostly most speeches make me cry.  But I have to say that this wedding had a speech that I can’t stop thinking about, even 3 days later.  The parents of the groom got up and read to us parts of the groom’s grade 3 journal.  The words were written by an 8 year old and they were so cute.  I did laugh and I cried just a little.  Then they read a journal entry that made me stop in my tracks.

The groom, at the tender age of 8, asked a question in his journal that took my breath away.  He asked,”What would it be like if I couldn’t read?”  WOW!!  As I sat and listened to what he had written down, I heard some chuckles and some “ahhhhhs” but I sat in stunned silence.  This little boy (at the time) realized what we in literacy see every day.  What would it be like if we couldn’t read??  He asked himself if he couldn’t read, would he be able to drive a car?   He thought that if he couldn’t read, he couldn’t read the signs and then he would have a car crash and die.   Truth!!!!!  We need to read the word “Stop” and then stop so that another car doesn’t run into us.  Out of the mouth of babes…….

What boggled my mind while  hearing this speech, was that a big part of our society isn’t as perceptive as this 8 year old.  Have you ever tried to imagine what your life would be like if you couldn’t read??  You couldn’t order off of a menu, get a driver’s license, use Facebook, read the directions for a medical procedure, read your medicine bottle, read a best seller, read a recipe and so many more.  We had a student who learned to read in the past few years.  Recently she was able to replace her stove with a newer model.  She had never had a self-cleaning oven so we were telling her that she couldn’t use a spray oven cleaner, that the oven cleans itself if you follow the directions.  I mentioned to her that you could put tinfoil on the bottom of the oven to catch some of the “drips”.  She proudly proclaimed, “no you can’t do that.  It is written on the oven door not to put tinfoil on the bottom of the oven.”  Then she smiled a grin of a lottery winner.  She was able to read the directions and hopefully she could take good care of the oven so it would last longer.  Oh my heart.

If you would like to see what it is like to not be able to read, just take off your glasses, or try to read another language.  You can see marks on the page but you can’t understand the message that is written down.  That message could be directions to a family member’s home, it could be a touching story about long lost relatives, it could be praise of how wonderful you are or it could be telling you that if you can read this, you are eligible for free season tickets to see the Toronto Maple Leafs.   What we would miss if we couldn’t read.  Now think of those in your community or your family who may not be able to read.  Think about how different their lives could be if they could read.  If you know someone who can’t read, make sure you tell them gently that if they would like to learn, we can help.

By the way, that little boy, (who is now married to my beautiful niece)  finished his journal entry by saying that if he couldn’t read, he wouldn’t be able to get married.  I am so glad he learned to read. 🙂