From Chicken Soup for the Soul Daily Inspirations for Women

January 31

Setting: a school in rural Arkansas where the first-grade students would participate in a different kind of reading program. After they had successfully completed a book, they were allowed to take books and tapes home over the weekend. They were to return the items on Monday.

On Monday, Nicole didn’t bring back the book and tapes. For three weeks she either said she forgot or didn’t offer any excuse at all. Then one day, Nicole’s young mother came to talk with the teacher.

Her first words came haltingly. “When Nicole told me she was learning to read, I didn’t believe her. Nobody in my family can read. When I asked her how she did that, she told me she listened to the tape and followed in the book with what the teacher read.

“The reason Nicole didn’t bring her reading stuff back was because I just couldn’t let go. I had to find out if I could learn.”

For Nicole’s teacher this was confirmation of what she had been taught about teaching: So many wondrous things seem to come about by accident. And this mother, who believed that she was too dumb to learn, actually read to her mother.

James Elwood Conner as told to Carla Merolla

No one is ever too old to learn.

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