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Teach Every Child A Love for Reading

Updated on December 10, 2017
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Sally Gulbrandsen Feltmaker: Her tutorials & techniques are as individual as she is — unique, experimental and always interesting.

My response To A Writing Challenge By Marilyn L. Davis

But, Have YOU Said It? A Writing Challenge

This challenge is to write about how you value, use and create your finished piece using our common denominator - words.

The Reign of Terror

With outstretched hands, the boys waited in a line. Anxiety penetrated their little faces. The teacher held the wooden ruler with both hands. Those of us watching, saw her flex the ruler, she bent it this way and then that way. The thin strip of metal embedded along one long edge gleamed back at me in the daylight.

She struck the first pair of knuckles without warning. A sharp involuntarily cry escaped from the boy’s lips. The watching children gasped in unison. The child wrenched his hands back in an effort to avoid the blow which followed but it was too late; she held his hands firmly in hers and finished off her dastardly deed. Slowly and purposefully she continued down the line to deliver more of the same to all the children waiting there.

Terror struck me right through the heart. It took me one moment to decide that if I was going to learn to read, it would need to be done in record time, especially if I was to avoid the same fate.

How I achieved my ambition amid her reign of terror and fear remains a mystery but fortunately for me. it was she who helped me discover the magic of words and books over the coming months. Words became my solace and my escape from this awful reality.

Forward To The Path Of Knowledge

My mother loved reading and writing. Books she said should be likened to good friends. Books were invented to stop people from feeling lonely. Words in the books have the power to transport you around the world she said, to places both real and imaginary. Words paint pictures. Words can make you laugh or cry. Words will sometimes make you want to yawn from sheer boredom but most of all, words were meant to excite you, to encourage you, to reach for the sky and to teach you to fly. Words can transport you into the World where you will meet fairies or goblins. Words will either lead you down the garden path or lead you along a path of knowledge. It is up to you to decide which path you wish to take.

School Friend
School Friend | Source

Girls Crystal and School Friend

One large wall of my parent’s bedroom was lined with tall ebony book shelves. They sagged and sighed under the weight of their burden. The only thing which stopped the books from spewing out onto the ground was the glass fronted sliding doors.

Our parents subscribed to several weekly magazines for us children. The magazines were meant to encourage our enjoyment of reading. Titles included June, Girls Crystal, School Friend and Look and Learn.

My favorite Magazine

My favorite magazine at the time was School Friend. It was an innocent, pre-teen magazine or comic which was published in the 1960’s. It was also the biggest selling girl’s comic/magazine at the time. It was aimed at middle-class British children like myself though there was a strange kind of irony in this for we did not quite fit the bill for we were being brought up in the rolling hills of Zululand in South Africa. Our middle-class parents had left Britain soon after the war, but we were more than happy to follow in their footsteps.

School Friend

School Friend was followed closely by the more modern June and I loved both publications. My siblings and I exchanged magazines with one another throughout the week. This made it possible for us to extend our reading pleasure until well into the following week by which time; fresh publications would arrive in the post, hot off the press.

Ballet Dancers
Ballet Dancers | Source
Dogs featured in School Friend
Dogs featured in School Friend | Source

Inside the Magazine

Inside the pages of School Friend were fashion items and advice, a few competitions and lots of images of well-groomed dogs. There is no doubt that the publication was a jolly good show old chap kind of magazine. After all, where else would you find stories which portrayed yacht racing, ballet, horse riding or children ski in the Alps?

Ballet Dancers
Ballet Dancers | Source

Girls Comics

These publications sent a very interesting message at the time. It was one which pervaded girls' comics of the day. It was clear to me; even then that the women portrayed in these publications had the potential and strength of purpose to realize most of their dreams.

Christmas Annual

Our parents presented each of us with a hardcover children’s Annual once a year, usually at Christmas. These were devoured and shared with one another.

Anticipation and Expectation

The comics came rolled up into cylinders. wrapped in brown paper and sealed with a piece of sellotape. The recipient’s name was clearly typed on it. The sound of the magazines being slipped through the letterbox was always greeted with squeals of delight and the sound of running feet.

Look and Learn!

Look and Learn was another of the publications. Though I recognized that it was unmatched for quality, it was not my preferred publication. I am sure that it inspired the imagination of many of its readers but sadly, I was not one of them.

Those daylight hours were never long enough

The daylight hours were never long enough. I never had enough time to consume all the words which were put in front of me.

Friends would arrive at school with a stack of comics for me to read. They always came with a condition attached. They had to be returned to their owner by the following day. Much pressure was brought to bear on the borrower because there was always another child anxiously waiting in wings for their turn to read the pile.

On school nights, our bedtime was seven thirty. I would read until the last glimmer of light had faded from the bedroom. The light in the bathroom adjacent to the shared bedroom was left on at night. I discovered that if I intentionally left the door slightly ajar, the bulb would beam back enough light so that I could read long into the night, without attracting too much attention. Piles of unread comics were regularly slipped between the sheets to help me meet my deadline in the the morning.

Christy's Old Organ

My two favorite book of at the time are Christy's Old Organ and the Far Away Tree.This huge tree, inhabited by fairy-folk was laden with fruit of all kinds from acorns to lemons. In my dreams, I found myself in the topmost branches with ever-changing magical lands above the swirling clouds.

Words never disappointed me then and I doubt that they ever will.

A Love of Reading

© 2015 Sally Gulbrandsen


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    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      3 years ago from Norfolk

      I am delighted that you unearthed this almost forgotten hub Alun. I wrote it a few years ago, long before I learned that this type of writing seldom survives time. Forward to the Path of Knowledge was written with my Mother foremost in my mind. She was an amazing woman, was almost solely responsible for instilling in her children a love of words. I have much to thank her for. Your thoughtful comment means a lot to me Alun, thank you.

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 

      3 years ago from Essex, UK

      Your article, and your evocative way of describing your childhood experiences, brings back my memories Sally. I remember when I was a child and the comics I read - first the Dandy and the Beano (of course) before I graduated to the slightly more mature Hornet, Victor and Hotspur. They were boys' comics which, of course, lacked the kind of stories which appeared in your comics - so, no ballet or horse riding! :) My comics were full of war stories and action adventure!

      As far as books were concerned, it was Enid Blyton's 'Famous Five'. I think I read the entire series, basically because I longed to experience an 'adventure' like the children in those books always managed to have, whenever they went on holiday!

      Perhaps sadly, none of this translated into a long term love of written stories, which I just don't often read today. But I won't preach what I personally practise - because there can be little doubt that reading as a child can instill a love of words and knowledge, and can give treasured memories which last a lifetime.

      I love your second section Sally, 'Forward To The Path Of Knowledge', which really says all there is to say about the diverse magic of words.

    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      4 years ago from Norfolk


      So glad you enjoyed reading this Hub. My childhood memories, especially those about reading books are something I still hold dear to me. I hope that today's children will have those too.

    • Happymommy2520 profile image


      4 years ago from East Coast

      This was a great Hub. Very original and I loved the pictures you posted. I remember loving to read Sweet Valley Twins, The Babysitters Club, and Judy Bloom books as a kid. I vividly remember many of the books I grew up with and loved. Beautifully written hub!

    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      5 years ago from Norfolk


      Learning to read is perhaps the most important thing we will ever do but teaching children the correct way is all important. The modern approach to teaching children to read has changed beyond recognition, but sometimes I do wonder how it is that so many people seem to have failed to grasp basic grammar or correct spelling. Perhaps parents are just too busy and teachers so overstretched that our children are being failed or does this computer age have something to do with it?

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.


    • brakel2 profile image

      Audrey Selig 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi Sallybea - I love this hub about words. I never read the books and comics you read, but I did enjoy reading. It was my favorite pastime, and I worked in a library for a while. If this is true about the punishment, it is very sad. However, I am sure everyone learned to read out of fear. Sharing, and glad I stopped by. Blessings, Audrey

    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      6 years ago from Norfolk


      The importance of reading to our children is of paramount importance. Teaching them that books can be likened to 'best friends', especially when they are feeling bored or lonely is just as important. I appreciate your stopping by to comment. Thanks for the vote up+++ it is valued and appreciated.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 

      6 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Books have always been my good friends. I learned to read because my mother read to me. How terrible for little kids to be smacked with a rule as you described. Voted up +++

    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      6 years ago from Norfolk

      Nell Rose

      I do remember Jackie and I felt exactly the same about receiving a book at Christmas, I wonder what this generation will think of as being the perfect literary gift at Christmas, perhaps a Kindle!

      Thanks for stopping by to comment. I am glad this one brought back a few nice memories for you.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      6 years ago from England

      Oh how you brought back those memories for me too! I loved June, and we had one called Jackie too, but that was for older teens. I also got my school friend annual every Christmas, and could never ever go without an annual for Christmas! doesn't matter what else I got, if there was no book then I was mortified! lol! great hub and so many memories!

    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      6 years ago from Norfolk


      Not quite the way one would want ones children or grandchildren to learn to read! Memory is a strange thing, I cannot remember now how I learned to read. It seemed to come so naturally to me after the initial shock of seeing those boys standing their with their hands held out:)

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 

      6 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      That was a hard way to learn to love reading! Our oldest granddaughter loves to read and will read anything you put in front of her. Our youngest loves to be read to and I hope she learns to love to read as well.

    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      6 years ago from Norfolk


      Oh yes, when you get a bad teacher, they are often really bad and when you get a good one my goodness a child will flourish like a weed. As I recall I only had one of the latter and he was the person who taught me to believe that I could write. Thanks for sharing your experience. Your visit is valued and appreciated.


    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      That is some teacher. Indeed that was an attention grabber, as you captivated the reader and made each of us recall some mean teacher (everyone had at least one) who was overly perfectionistic. Mine was a third grade teacher named Mrs. Dodd who was also my reading and writing teacher. A sheer terror of an old lady who made some kids stutter and others cry. I just didn't speak, cracked my knuckles like crazy, and became a perfectionist.

    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      6 years ago from Norfolk


      I am glad that I was able to capture your attention with this one. I think my folks had the right idea, let the children read anything, as long as they learn to love reading. These books certainly captured my interest and that of my siblings.

      Thank you for the vote up, awesome and interesting.


    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      I wonder how many readers were holding their hands to avoid the ruler? Great start Sally. I also loved the introduction to the comics you had. I don't remember them here but they obviously did what they were supposed to, grabbed the interest of little girls.

      Voted up, awesome, and interesting.

    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      6 years ago from Norfolk


      I think I recall the Annual you mention. How interesting that your books were sent such a great distance. I regularly see these publications on our local Auction here in the UK and also in Antique Shops, which is where I managed to photograph these images. I guess it goes to show that a good book simply cannot be put down:) I hope your friend enjoys this account as much as I enjoyed writing this challenge. Thank you for the sharing this with your friend and others.


    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      6 years ago from Norfolk

      Faith Reaper

      i am glad you enjoyed my take on this challenge. Thanks so much for the up++++, tweet, pin G+ share. Your comments are always valued and appreciated.

      Peace and blessings to you,


    • techygran profile image

      Cynthia Zirkwitz 

      6 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada


      This great hub brought back fond memories of my friend Linda's 'annuals' sent by her British cousins to our little community on the Canadian prairies. They were so much more sophisticated than the American 'comics' and really sparked my chronic anglophilia! I'm sharing this with my friend and others!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      6 years ago from southern USA

      Oh, Sally,

      This is such a delight to read! I love all of your personal accounts. I have never heard of these comics. They seem to be so encouraging to young girls.

      Thank you for sharing of all your wonderful childhood of words.

      You sure lived up to the challenge and then some!

      Up ++++ tweeting, pinning, G+ and sharing

      Peace and blessings always

    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      6 years ago from Norfolk


      Your comment is valued and appreciated, thank you so much.

      Best wishes,


    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      6 years ago from The Caribbean

      Your personal experience is very well presented in response to the challenge. I admire your versatility of talent--always top-notch.

    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      6 years ago from Norfolk


      It was sweet of you to stop by. I hope you enjoy your out of town company and my wish is that you all have a wonderful time together.

      It is interesting to note that not all children were as fortunate as we were as children. We had books and home grown food and went everywhere bare foot and were encouraged to read. You remind me that we had a set of encyclopedias too, probably purchased on credit from a travelling salesman:) I can't say they I explored them much but we later had copies of National Geographic which I thought were amazing. Wow, we did enjoy those.

      Glad you enjoyed my take of this challenge.


    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 

      6 years ago

      Sally, I have out of town company. I'm slipping around to read a few works.

      I would not want to have miss this one.

      You are the lady with many talents.

      We had a set of encyclopedias. That was my favorite reading.

      My parents were not readers until their later years. There were no

      childhood books in my home.

      As I got older, I got teen magazines. I do not recall there being comic books for girls.

      I enjoyed your article.

      You never disappoint!


    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      6 years ago from Norfolk


      You are right, finding a connection with words is best done at a very young age. Finding the right material for the individual reader is so important. It has to excite them and make them want to read more.

      I am sure you granddaughter will treasure her Childcraft Encyclopedia.

      Thanks for providing such an interesting challenge. I enjoyed writing it.


    • MDavisatTIERS profile image

      Marilyn L Davis 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Good morning, Sally; I feel so fortunate that many of the articles written for my challenge reinforce my beliefs in the power of words. I also find it interesting that so many of us valued words at an early age. Seeing your childhood pictures took me back.

      I've still got one or two volumes from the Childcraft Encyclopedia where I circled all the letters that spelled cat. My youngest granddaughter has asked for it....

      Again, wonderful job on the challenge and an excellent read. ~Marilyn

    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      6 years ago from Norfolk


      Nice to know that you enjoyed some of the same magazines and annuals. I had forgotten about 'Jackie'. It was not one of the publications which dropped through our letterbox though I do recall reading one or two. Thanks for stopping by to comment,


    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      6 years ago from SW England

      Great title and your enthusiasm for words shines through.

      I can identify with most of those magazines and annuals. I especially loved 'Jackie'!

      Great hub and thank goodness they no longer wrap children over the knuckles for not being able to read!


    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      6 years ago from Norfolk


      It is always such a pleasure for me to have you come and visit one of my pages Kim.

      Fancy, I cannot imagine a child not being acquainted with either School Friend or Girls Crystal.

      Times certainly have changed - it does seem that these days the pupils are the ones giving the teacher's a hard time:) I am sure you did nothing wrong, she probably needed someone to make an example of, shame it was you.



    • ocfireflies profile image


      6 years ago from North Carolina


      You always produce the most awesome hubs and this one is no different. One of the things I love about HP is that I get to learn about other cultures. I had never heard of any of the comic books. In addition, your opening prose brought back my own memory regarding early school years. The teacher held my hand on my desk and took her wooden ruler and hit my knuckles several times. To this day, I have no clue what it was I had done wrong. V+ for sure!



    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      6 years ago from Norfolk

      always exploring

      I am glad you enjoyed going back in time. Your visit is valued and appreciated, thank you.


    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I enjoyed going back in time to the days of the ruler on the knuckles and the fear of being next if I didn't spell a word correctly. Comic books were my passion too. Thank's for sharing. Enjoyable read...

    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      6 years ago from Norfolk


      Your comment made me smile. I expect that children these days read a kindle or phone way into the hours of the morning. I don't envy their parents at all. There is something so innocent about a child with a book.

    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      6 years ago from Norfolk

      Ali Sulehria

      Thank you very much, I hope that they were good ones.


    • Ali Sulehria profile image

      Ali Sulehria 

      6 years ago from RawalPindi Pakistan

      Very well written, it brought back so many memories

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank God there were still no computers when I was growing up so books were our avenues to other worlds and lives. To evade my mother's watch, I used a flashlight under my sheets so I could read until 2:30 in the morning.

    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      6 years ago from Norfolk


      Glad you enjoyed my little tale. I am sorry you found yourself on the wrong end of the paddle in your youth. I was witness to far too many occasions such as these and though they made me feel very anxious at times, I think there may have been some merit to their madness. I appreciate your stopping by to comment, thank you very much.


    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 

      6 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      Sally, I had a great time reading this article. The story at the beginning brought back too many bad school memories. I was quite often the one on the wrong end of a paddle. But I learned to read and to love it.

    • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      6 years ago from Norfolk

      Thank you Billy, this one took me rather longer than I would have liked and your comment is all the more valued and appreciated because of it.


    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You had me with the title...the introduction pulled me in...the rest of the article was a beautiful glimpse into your life and the magic you found in words. This was a wonderful read, Sally!



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