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"It's time to watch Reading Rainbow!" she exclaimed.
Everyone tumbled onto the ground and started to huff and puff. Ms. Miles dimmed the classroom lights and placed a Reading Rainbow tape into the VCR. Momentarily, Reading Rainbow's whimsical theme song started to play:
"Butterfly in the sky
I can go twice as high
Take a look
It's a book
A reading rainbowâ€¦."
At first glance I felt that Reading Rainbow was a nonsensical television show that bribed young children into giving capsule book reviews, but after watching a series of episodes on regular basis I became profoundly infatuated by Reading Rainbow's alluring animations and illustrations. While most of my classmates fell asleep, I vividly watched as LeVar Burton (the host of Reading Rainbow) enunciated every syllable in a particular word. For instance, a word such as monkey would appear in bright purple letters across the television screen, and Burton would say repeat after me "mon" then "key".
"Now put the two syllables together and you will get "monkey".
"Now that wasn't hard at all was it," Burton said with a smile.
I watched Reading Rainbow so much during kindergarten that at nap time I could envision the vibration of LeVar Burton's lips stressing that "d sounds like d in did" and "r sounds like r in red". Initially I thought that I was going insane, but I soon realized that I was learning how to interpret and articulate different terms. As my reading skills began to proliferate, I started to persuade my parents into purchasing small novels for me to read. I read books like Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin, The Gingerbread Man by Jim Aylesworth, I Can Read with My Eyes Shut by Dr. Seuss, and assortment of other novels.
By the time I reached middle school my admiration for reading books declined severely. In middle school I realized that reading was considered boring and was not cool. Anyone that read books or textbooks on their leisure time was ridiculed or mocked. I personally did not want my friends to make fun of me so instead of going home after school to study or to read my textbooks, I would play games at my friend's house. I spent my entire first two years of middle school socializing with friends, participating in extracurricular activities and trying to become popular rather than improving my literacy skills. Thus, in 8th grade when I took my high school placement exam, it was apparent from my test scores that I was unprepared and not ready for high school. I was infuriated when I acknowledged that I failed my English placement test, because I knew that if I had focused more in my 6th and 7th grade English class I would have passed the placement test. When I realized the severity of the issue, I begged my middle school guidance counselor for a second chance at retaking the placement test. Luckily, I was granted the opportunity of taking a two month English program during the summer. The main purpose of the program was to help me improve my reading and writing skills. At the end of the program I was able to retake the high school English placement test. I passed the placement test and I was able to take regular English in high school.
In the beginning of high school, English was a difficult course for me, because it required an ample amount of reading and writing skills. Since I was too busy socializing with friends in middle school, I never learned how to analyze and interpret literature, write in-depth research papers, and understand certain college level vocabulary words. I struggled throughout my freshman year because everything was new to me. I use to get very irritated when my English professor would ask me a question on a particular literary text, and I could not answer the question because I did not understand the passage. Compared to the other students in the class, I was the only person that was unable to decipher any of the literary passages that the instructor had assigned. Even thought I would get irritated at times, I was still determined to learn how to comprehend the literary passages. One mechanism I used to help me apprehend the literary texts was what I called "LeVar Burton's repeating technique." I remember that Burton use to say "in order understand a sentence or phrase you must carefully read it over and over again until you are able to apprehend its meaning." Therefore whenever I did not understand the context of any literary passage, I would read the text over and over again until I was able to comprehend its meaning and main idea. Even though "LeVar Burton's repeating technique" might sound and seem absurd to many people, but it has enabled me to understand specific words in essays, novels, and articles.
Although Ms. Miles consistently had to wheedle my classmates and I into watch Reading Rainbow, it has had a prodigious impact on my literacy skills. Learning how to read and write at a young age allowed me to express my emotions and thoughts on paper. Without Reading Rainbow I believe that I would not have been able to understand that "th is pronounced as th in thin" and "sh sounds like sh in shy". Just like in Superman and Me, Sherman Alexie was able to break the stereotypical assertion that "Indians were only monosyllabic"; with the help of Reading Rainbow, I able to increase my simple form of dialect by accumulating a collection of new terminology.