Learning How to Read

Learning How to Read


My brother is three years older than me. When he went off to school, I was envious. According to my mother, I begged and cried to go to school. To appease me, I started kindergarten about two weeks before my fifth birthday.

I read books about Dick, Jane and their dog, Spot.

Almost forty years later, I’m a writer and a teacher. I love books.

In October, Houston, an Aussie-mix puppy arrived in the Horde. He was born on June 30th. Using the “Dog Age Calculator,” I figured he is the equivalent of a seven-year-old.

Today, while I was at school helping students finish essays on Neal Shusterman’s novel, Unwind, Houston taught himself to read.

He sampled several different genres.

Houston started with The Joys of Yiddish. But, he started at the end and finished in the section about weddings. He took a bite out of the section on breaking the glass, reminding the wedding party of the destruction of Temple and to never forget that happiness is transient.

After learning a foreign language, he took a bite out of Tom Robbins’, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. Reading about the hitchhiker, Sissy, he learned, “Purpose! Purposes are for animals with a hell of a lot more dignity than the human race! Just hop on that strange torpedo and ride it to wherever it’s going.”

Houston had it with reading about humans and moved onto Tail Talk: Understanding the Secret Language of Dogs. But, he did not get into the text. He only perused the front and back covers.

Continuing with the theme of languages, Houston ripped the cover off The Five Love Languages. When I saw his homework spread out on the landing, I realized his love language is “quality time.”


I moved the laundry hamper and the yoga ball in front of the bookshelves. I will spend “quality time” learning Houston’s love languages with him from now on.

About Julie Hooker

I'm a teacher, writer, and editor. In addition, I'm an animal rescuer, yogi, and friend.
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