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The Globe Theater looms in the distance. The sun is going down, and there is a chill in the air. There is a long bridge, and we can see the theater from far off. As we get closer, we start walking faster and faster. Standing in the place where Shakespeare's plays were originally performed is a dream come true for me.
I never thought that I would like or even be able to read Shakespeare. I was diagnosed with dyslexia when I was in the first grade, and for the next few years, I worked hard to try to catch up to the level of my classmates. This felt nearly impossible. By the time I was able to read picture books, they were reading chapter books. When I finally read my first chapter book, my classmates were reading a whole series.
In second grade, my class had a system where students could sign up to read books from a series, and they would be paired up with a reading buddy who would also read the same series. The teacher had a number of choices, including The Boxcar Children and The Goosebumps Series. I have always loved scary stories, and I really, really wanted to read The Goosebumps series. So, when it was time to sign up, I excitedly chose Goosebumps. But my teacher told me I couldn't choose those books because they were too hard for me. Instead, I had to read the Pete The Cat series, which are picture books designed for beginning readers. Since everyone else could already read, I had to read Pete the Cat alone in the corner of the room every day during reading group time. It was embarrassing, and I hated that I had to read alone when everyone else had a partner. I especially hated that I couldn't choose to read the books that I was interested in.
Experiences like this made me want to work harder so that I would fit in with my classmates and not be left out. I started reading The Bailey School Series because my mom had most of them from her classroom, and while they weren't The Goosebumps books, they were mysteries, and they kept me motivated to keep on reading.
I especially hated that I couldn't choose to read the books that I was interested in.
When I was in seventh grade, I changed schools. My new school was a small, private school and my teacher was a Folger's Fellow, which basically makes her an expert on Shakespeare. I was nervous at first when we approached our first Shakespeare play. I was worried because we had to read out loud, and I was afraid that the other kids would make fun of me. But my classmates were really supportive, and I ended up loving Shakespeare and finding my element.
Over the next two years, I read close to a dozen plays. Some of my favorites were Macbeth, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Henry V and A Winter's Tale, which I was able to see performed live at the Globe Theater in London.
This year, when I came back to my local public high school, we had to choose a book to read independently for our honors English class. When I chose King Lear, my teacher wasn't confident that I could tackle Shakespeare on my own. She thought it would be too difficult for me. Unlike the days when I was forced to read picture books alone in the corner, I now have the confidence to know that I can take on any challenge. I finished King Lear, marking my twelfth Shakespeare play. (It has also moved up in the ranks to become my favorite.)
Unlike the days when I was forced to read picture books alone in the corner, I now have the confidence to know that I can take on any challenge.
The fact that I am able to "see" at all when I read is something that I appreciate because I know that's not the way it is for many dyslexic readers.
When my teacher challenged my ability to understand Shakespeare, I explained that learning to read Shakespeare is like learning a new language or, in my case, like learning to read at all. As a dyslexic reader, I had to work hard to learn to read, so when it came time to take on Shakespeare, I was ready for the challenge. The more you read, the easier it becomes, and the more you read Shakespeare, the more the language begins to feel natural.
At some point, I would like to direct a Shakespeare play because when I read his plays, I have a certain vision of how I see them. When I see Shakespeare's performances live, I'm always comparing them to what I see in my mind when I read. Sometimes, it's cool to see plays produced differently than what I imagined. The fact that I am able to "see" at all when I read is something that I appreciate because I know that's not the way it is for many dyslexic readers.
Standing in front of The Globe Theater on that cool spring night, I felt excited and shocked that I made it to the point where I was about to watch a Shakespeare play live in London. To me, Shakespeare represents how far I have come and the fact that I can take on any challenge that's put in front of me.
Kaya Miskinis is a 9th grader who began her journey with dyslexia interventions when she was in second grade. As a result of early interventions, Kaya is now an avid reader who is especially fond of Shakespeare. Dyslexia still has an impact, though, particularly when it comes to spelling, and Kaya also struggles with dyscalculia, which impacts her ability to retain math facts. Overall, though, Kaya is a testament to the power of early interventions, and she enjoys challenging herself with a full course load of honors classes. When she's not at school, Kaya can be found working at a retirement home where she helps care for elderly residents or curled up with a good book.