Friday, February 12, 2010

Natalie's Glasses

by Sharlyn Guthrie

Children chattered noisily, attempting to decipher the messages imprinted on each conversation heart. My kindergarten class had just finished playing a phonics game in which the tiny Valentine treats served as rewards. I had never seen my students as enthusiastic about learning to read, so I congratulated myself on my stroke of genius.

Natalie approached me, her hand outstretched. “What does this one say?”

“Why don’t you try to read it?”

Standing on tiptoe Natalie tugged on my sleeve. When I bent close, she whispered in my ear, “I don’t know how to read…I don’t have glasses.”

Uncomprehending, I furrowed my brow. That’s when I noticed several children, candy hearts in hand, crowded around Keegan, the only proficient reader in the class and the only other person besides myself who wore glasses. I smiled as the meaning of Natalie’s words became clear.

It wasn’t hard relating to Natalie’s misperception. I could recall asking my grandmother to read me a story when I was a child. “Let me fetch my reading glasses,” she had replied, heading for the stand that held her Bible and newspaper. After reading the story Grandma had returned to the kitchen. Then I carefully tried on her reading glasses, hopeful that they would work for me. Instead, the words in my storybook grew fuzzy and I felt dizzy. The memory made me smile.

Now here I was, attempting to teach five year olds how to read. The job was often challenging. Today had been encouraging, but on other days I wondered if we were making any progress at all.

If only Natalie were right, and a pair of glasses could make all the difference in the world…

“It’s time to practice reading,” I notify my class.
“First I’ll see that sixteen pairs of glasses have been passed.
Next take out your books and turn them to page twenty three.
Please put on your glasses. You will find it easily.”

Sixteen children flip and then land promptly on the page.
“Ready? Let’s begin.” Each student’s interest is engaged.
Flawlessly they read with meaning and expression.
No one hesitates throughout the reading lesson.

Now my classroom duties have greatly been reduced
More time’s left for play-doh and playing “Duck, duck, goose.”
I rejoice and call it a reading revolution.
Students stumped by phonics now have a quick solution.

News of the wonder glasses spreads across the nation.
Soon there is no need for special education.
Next the lucky lenses bring good fortune to the poor.
Streets once ruled by gangsters grow safe and calm once more.

Countries where the children can’t afford to go to school
are given vast supplies of the educator’s tool.
The benefits of reading, now clear for all to see,
have philanthropists distributing the spectacles for free.

Missionaries use them in the spreading of God’s Word,
Enabling folks to read, who before had only heard.
Miracle reading glasses –an educator’s dream…

“What’s this one say, teacher? Teacher? TEACHER!”

“Oh, I’m sorry, Tyler, I must have been daydreaming. Let’s see if you can sound it out...but first, put on your glasses.”

“But teacher, I don’t have any glasses.”

“Oh. Then we’ll just have to do it the old-fashioned way, won’t we?”


“Never mind.”

Today I'm participating in Fiction Friday, hosted by Yvonne at My Back Door. Visit her blog for links to more great fiction.


  1. Ah, if only there were such a magic tool! I guess learning to read is one of those things - difficult at the first, but so worth the effort! I like your story and the kids.

  2. Oh, if only it were so easy for everyone to read! I can't read without my glasses anymmore, either. I must be getting old!


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