The Backwards Letters
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||edHelper's suggested reading level:
||high interest, readability grades 3 to 5
||Flesch-Kincaid grade level:
||Beis, diagnostic, discouragement, downcast, dyslexia, dyslexic, funky, imaginative, intuitive, lime-green, poster-covered, reverse, confidence, spite, glared, reading
||Alphabet Song, Not Victor, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Jay Leno
The Backwards Letters
By Colleen Messina
1 Victor always liked school, except for one thing. Reading was so hard! He remembered sitting with his friends during circle time on a rug covered with letters and bright pictures. They sang the Alphabet Song, which was all right. Then, the teacher held up words on cards. His friends learned the words easily. Not Victor. He tried to keep his chocolate- brown eyes downcast so the teacher couldn't see his fear.
2 He could remember feeling sick to his stomach when it was his turn. His knuckles turned white as he clenched his knees.
3 "Try, Victor," the teacher said softly. "It is the same word you had last time!"
4 "I am trying!" said Victor. The class giggled. The teacher glared at the class.
5 "Try again, Victor," she said.
6 He squinted at the word. It seemed to wiggle on the card. First, the letters faced one way and then the other. Then, it seemed like the letters were floating in space! Victor felt his face turn red. He thought the word was cat, but then the word reversed. It said cat, then it said tac! Which was it? The minutes crept by.
7 "It's OK, Victor," the teacher finally said. "Brianna, why don't you try?"
8 "That is easy!" said Brianna in her bright, five-year-old voice. "That word is cat!"
9 "Very good, Brianna," said the teacher. She turned over the card to show a picture of a black cat.
10 Brianna beamed. Victor felt like crawling under the rug.
11 Victor managed to get through school, but he barely made passing grades. Somehow, no one could figure out why he couldn't read well. Concentrate, they said. Try harder, they said. Victor hated it. Why was he so different?
12 When Victor was in high school, a guidance counselor stopped him in the hallway. The counselor was a young guy, fresh from college, and he still liked to wear funky T-shirts and jeans. Victor had always liked him.
13 "Hey, buddy, talk with me!" Mr. Beis said. Mr. Beis liked to be called Jim. Victor went into his poster-covered office and flopped down on a lime-green beanbag chair. Victor wondered why Jim wanted to talk to him.
14 "I was just wondering how you were doing?" Jim asked gently.
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