On the BBC News app recently was an article about an 86 year old lady Ursula Shepherd, who lives in Devon and is learning to read with tutors from LearnDevon, which encompasses adult and community learning courses run by Devon County Council. She is coming along in leaps and bounds, and her goal is to be able to go to the library and pick out a book to read. Ursula says that as a schoolgirl in the 1930’s, her teachers did not really care if she was educated or not.
I am so pleased that Ursula is finally discovering the joy of reading. I taught both my sons to read before they went to school, as my mother did for me. As a child I would walk with my father to our local library once a week, where I would search for the latest Enid Blyton book or one of the Nancy Drew mysteries that I hadn’t yet read. A good part of my childhood was spent with my nose in a book, and I could lose myself totally in the story. It got me out of having babysitters by the age of 8, as Mum trusted me and knew that I’d still be sitting reading when she came home from work. As soon as she returned from her job at 2.30pm I’d run out to knock for friends, safe in the knowledge that she was home and available if I got into any trouble.
How difficult it must have been for Ursula all her life being unable to read. How could she understand food labels in supermarkets, instructions, or even fill out a simple form? She would have always needed to ask somebody to do these things for her, now hopefully she will soon be able to do these things for herself.
Yes, Ursula has missed out on a lot, but it just proves that you are never too old to learn to read and enjoy a good book.