TITLE: Jacob Learns to Read...Again 7/25/13
By Bonnie Rose Hudson
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“Leave me alone, Caleb! I don’t need any help!”
“You helped me learn to read. I want to help you!”
“You’re six years old. I’m twelve. There’s a big difference. I’m supposed to teach you to read. You’re not supposed to teach me anything.”
“That’s just dumb!”
Jacob heard Caleb thump across the room and open the cabinet door. Why couldn’t his little brother just let him alone? Someone was dragging a chair across the floor. Umph—too close. The chair bumped into his leg.
“I got your practice sheets.” Caleb said.
The next thing Jacob knew, Caleb had lifted his hand from the desk and set it down on a sheet of paper covered in Braille dots. Caleb guided his hand to the top corner of the page.
“You already learned the first ten letters. If you can learn ten more, you’ll almost have the whole alphabet!”
Jacob sighed. Maybe he should just do what Caleb wanted. At least that way, he would eventually leave him alone.
“Do you remember how mom said yesterday that you can make the next ten letters just by adding the dot in place number three in the bottom corner? Try this one. Feel the ‘j.’ If you add the dot in the corner, it’s the letter ‘t.’ Now you can try this word.”
Caleb guided his hand down the page. Jacob traced his finger over the first letter. “C.” Next, he felt the single dot for “A.” He could feel Caleb starting to bounce in the chair beside him. He traced his fingers over the new letter Caleb had just shown him: “T.”
Caleb announced the word for him. “Cat! You learned all the letters to cat!”
Jacob shoved the paper away from him. “Caleb, I told you I don’t want to do this. Go bug Mom.”
Suddenly, everything grew quiet. That made Jacob nervous. Quiet and Caleb did not usually go together. When they did… Just as he was about to ask Caleb where he was, he heard him slide his chair back and walk back across the room. He rattled something, then came back.
“Here—maybe if you play with this for a while you’ll feel better.”
Jacob ran his hands around the hard plastic object Caleb had just put in his hands. It felt familiar, somehow. He couldn’t quite tell what it was. When it took him too long to figure it out, Caleb blurted out, “It’s the baby Jesus, from my manger.”
His manger? Jacob thought about the Christmas decorations that must still be out all around the house. Mom usually had them down by New Year’s Eve, but they were still up. He couldn’t help her like last year.
“You told me that God sent Jesus to us as a baby, so he could grow up and show us how much God loves us. Well, if baby Jesus had to learn to walk, and he was God’s Son, can’t you learn to read again?”
Jacob hated it when Caleb did that. Somehow, for such a little guy, he came up with some pretty big things to say.
“Do you want to help me try those new letters again?” Jacob asked.
Caleb threw his arms around him in a hug. Jacob knew Caleb smiled because of the way he could feel his cheeks puffing out when he put his face against his chest.
Jacob gave him a quick hug back, then turned back toward the desk. “Come on, let’s get started. You might know how to read the word ‘cat,’ but there are a whole lot harder words out there you’re not going to know how to say. You have to help me learn these Braille letters so I can help you learn to read.”
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