By, Sana Sangwan – Age 11
Ashley walked home, disappointed with herself. She had just gotten back her grades, her reading grade specifically. Though Ashley considered herself a good reader, she had two problems.
One, she had a habit of not reading all sorts of genres, and that led to her second problem.
Her reading grade.
The way she looked at it, the grade was lower than low, and Ashley was bracing herself for her parent’s explosion. They were the kind of parents who took grades very seriously.
As she walked through the door, she saw her parents having a conversation looking very serious.
Feeling it would be best to break the news at a happier time, she headed to her room, but all of a sudden, she heard a voice.
“Ashley, come here please.”
She walked back into the room, looking nervously at her parents.
“We got an email from your teacher. It was concerning your reading grade.” Her dad paused for a minute and frowned. “She included your grade for reading too. We were shocked to see it very low”.
“I know, and I’m sor-”
“No!” started her mother. “We have tried constantly, but you have ignored us. You will learn the hard way.” She took a breath. “No Harry Potter, nor Percy Jackson for however long it takes for you to learn your lesson.”
Ashley felt as though someone had punched her in the stomach. Harry Potter was her favorite book in the whole wide world, and if that were taken she would go for Percy Jackson, her second favorite.
“N-n-no” she stuttered.
“No Harry Potter nor Percy Jackson” her father said firmly.
“THAT’S NOT FAIR!” Ashley yelled at her parents. “YOU BOTH TAKE EVERYTHING WAY TO SERIOUSLY!”
“Young lady, I do not like your tone of voice,” her father glared at her, his voice dangerously rising.
Before Ashley knew what was happening she was running out the door, ignoring her parent’s calls. She was angry at them, she was angry at her teacher.
Ashley ran out onto the street, disregarding the honks and yells of angry drivers. She was almost on the sidewalk once more when…,
A car slammed into her foot and sent her falling to the ground. The next thing she knew she was being hauled onto a stretch bed, with worried faces staring down at her.
She woke up in a room covered with rhino stickers and a doctor examining her ankle. When he made to touch it, she let out a cry.
“Don’t touch it! It hurts!”
Her doctor looked at her only now realizing that she was awake. He murmured something to himself and went back to her ankle.
Ashley looked around. The room was lonely and scary. She wished her friends and family were here with her.
“My Baby!” yelled the familiar voice of her mother. She ran into the room, her dad behind her looking confused of how he got here. She ran to Ashley and pressed her lips on her forehead.
“Mom, I’m not a baby!”
“Doctor what happened” her father asked. “Why is her ankle all swollen, she didn’t twist it, did she?” He ran a hand through his hair and stared at Ashley’s ankle.
“That is exactly what’s wrong” her doctor answered. “It’s not so bad, but she will have to stay in bed for…” he trailed off, looking at his clipboard, “two days”.
Ashley gasped. It was hard for an eleven year old to stay in bed for two days without getting any fresh air or going outside.
“But I have school!” she exclaimed.
“Exactly, she has school!” her mother said, standing at her side. “Is she going to stay here or at our home?”
“She will get a doctor’s note for school, and surely you can pick up her homework? She will stay in the hospital, so that we can check on her. Now I will leave her with you.”
And with that he left the room.
“I hope your not disappointed about staying in bed for so long?” her mother asked. “I mean you’re a child, and children are meant to run and play.”
Her mother was acting as though they had no argument. “After all, bei-”
“Caroline,” her dad said firmly. “Shall we tell her?” Her mother nodded.
“We know if we ban you from books, you will read them behind our backs, so we have hidden them from you.”
“Fine.” Ashley said. She was not very interested in the book argument, she just wanted to know about her ankle.
“Fine?” her dad asked, confused about her calm profile.
“Fine” Ashley repeated
She looked away, watching the wind blow leaves toward the pretty houses. She then fell asleep.
Ashley woke up to the sound of books thudding down on her hospital nightstand. She looked up at her mother, who was holding a paper which said…
“Reading Contract. Read 12 books of Different Genres by September 16”
She looked at her mom. “Did you make this?”
“No, of course not!” laughed her mother. “I wish but, no. Your teacher made this for the class, and it is your homework. I got the books you need for it.” She gestured toward the pile of books.
“Happy reading!” she exclaimed, as she left the room.
Ashley picked up the first book. It was called, “Little town on the Prairie”. The book sounded familiar so she opened it. As she read, she discovered the book was amazing, fun and filled with drama. It was the same wonderful feeling she got book after book, signature after signature.
Once she reached the last book she patted herself on the back.
“Good job” Ashley whispered to herself as the doctor came in to check on her ankle.
Soon came the big day. Ashley missed her house, her room, her friends (though she had many visitors), and her mom’s food. She was super-eager when it became time to go home again.
After being supported by a nurse, she was able to walk, though it was a little wobbly. After going home, eating and sleeping, Ashley felt ready as her dad drove her to school the next day.
“You’re okay!” her friends cried when they saw her.
“Of course I am!” she told them, grinning. “Now let’s go to class, shall we?”
They hurried to lead Ashley to class on time, where they went to room 16, for reading, their first class in the morning.
“Pop Quiz!” said their teacher, Mrs. Valquadez, as soon as the first few people walked through the door.
“Ugh!” someone exclaimed, and everyone groaned in agreement, Ashley and her friends with them.
They went to their seats and grudgingly got out their pencils and erasers. Ashley read the first few problems. They were easy, not really quiz like.
What is your favorite Genre? and why do you like it? were a couple.
As she started, she caught her teacher looking at her.
“Hand em’ in, hand em’ in,”said Mrs. Valquadez. as people were finishing up the last parts of the test.
As she was collecting them, she said, “I am giving you your monthly reading grade now. See how hard you have tried in the past month! Open it with your parents.”
Ashley got her yellow envelope and when nobody was looking, snuck a peek. She saw a 4, for excellent, amazing, and over the top.
She smiled. “Thank you reading contract” she whispered to herself.
Thank you, Sana, for reminding us how important and fun reading can be! Keep up the excellent work!
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