• Benjamin Fife

ReadingMagic - When did you first discover that reading could be fun? - The Reading Magic Game day 4


I had a delightful second grade teacher, Miss Bobbette Finch. I still smile thinking about her today. She was single, to my knowledge still is, greying with curly hair (Probably permed is my adult guess on the matter) and was always smiling. I’m sure she’s not the only elementary school teacher who read books to me as a kid, but she’s the only one that I clearly remember reaiding to our class. I remember her reading The Whipping Boy to us. I remember thinking it was a long book & finding it very exciting. I’m not sure if she read us other books or not that year, but I remember her reading that one over the course of several days or weeks – couldn’t tell you which at this point.


But there was something else she did that year that got me reading through as many books as I could. If memory serves, I think it was February or March & she held a contest – How many pages could you read in a month. I decided I was GOING TO WIN. My 8 year old daughter would most definitely have left me in the absolute dust if my 8 year old self had gone head to head with her. She’s reading things like King’s Warrior or Kellynch: Dragon Persuasion in a couple of days (seriously – I let her loose on Jane Austen’s Dragons & she read the whole series in less than a month – 1500 pages, nearly half a million words). But fortunately, I wasn’t competing against her. And fortunately for me, there was no requirement from the teacher about the types of books, wordcount, or anything else that I recall. I’m guessing my mom had to certify how many pages I had read.



I remember VERY little about what I read. But I do know that 90% of it was kids’s books with just a couple of sentences per page. I’m not sure if I checked out most of them from the school library or the local library. There’s only one book that I specifically remember: Lightning Strikes Twice. It being 35 years since I read it, I’m highly impressed I do at all. But I remember reading it. Aside from some vague pictures and the image of a few sentences opposite the pages with the pictures, I don’t remember anything else about it. I’m guessing I probably read a Charlie Brown Comic book or two as well in that month. Probably the primary thing I remember about that contest – and that month – was sitting at the end of the hall in our basement next to my oldest brother’s room reading, and reading, and reading on the floor by the bookshelf.



And I also remember winning. I think I ‘read’ a total of 2060 pages (I’m sure The Lorax was included in those pages – I don’t think we were allowed to count a book more than once). I think the next closest was Mandy at just under 2000 pages. She & I left everyone else in the dust. Thinking about the kind of girl Mandy was, she was probably reading Black Beauty or Jane Eyre or Pride & Prejudice. Or at least The Chronicles of Narnia… I have little doubt had we gone by wordcount she beat me hollow. But that’s all in retrospect. I was a Winning Reader! And I had FUN! And wherever you are, Bobbette Finch, bless you for inspiring a wiry little boy to read.