This is a tough one for me as I love all the books I read. But I didn’t learn to read until I was 11 years old. Until then the dyslexia had left me looking at a page that made no sense. The words moved and they were just wrong.
I’d like to say that the school and authorities realised there was something wrong, but I’m afraid I was just labeled sub-normal and put into the bottom sets. I can still remember the arguments that my mum would have with the teachers, yelling that I was smart and them complaining that I couldn’t read or write. Then the government decided to obliterate the 3-tier school system. Up until this point there was the first, middle and high school. Now there was just Primary and Secondary. I was the year that changed. So I missed a whole year of the Secondary school.
“Not a problem,” those in charge had yelled. And I suppose it hadn’t been to anyone else but at the age of 11 I was thrown into big school. I couldn’t believe that I would enter that school not being able to read. It was the frustration more than the inability. I just knew that I couldn’t start the school knowing that I couldn’t read.
This is where my parents stepped in. In particular my mum, an english teacher herself she took me through the whole process and by the time I started school I was reading. I may not have been as good as my peers but I got better. It was like someone had opened a wonderful, magical world and shown me that I could live it. Since then I have devoured books at an astonishing rate.
But my favourite, the book that I love most of all. Well, that isn’t a piece of high fiction, or even a well-known childs book, like ‘Peter Pan’ or ‘the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’. It is the first that I read by myself and understood and enjoyed.
‘101 Dalmatians‘ or ‘The Great Dog Robbery’ is the first book I read and it is still my favourite. Just picking up the green book with the dog on the front and sitting down, is my equivalent of a blanket and cup of hot chocolate. I read it when I am depressed or if life is too hard, not for any reason other than comfort. That book has gone to camp, university, holidays… so many places. It is my version of an invisibility cloak. Once I am there, I cease to exist in the world and an only in the pages with Pongo and Missis.
Even now I will take the book, I suppose I could download the kindle version and then no one would know what I was reading but I love the feel of the book. Written by Dodie Smith in 1956 it can still capture my imagination and transport me to the world of dogs, robbers and twilight barking.