How do I help my brother learn to read?

I’m writing to you about my brother and his wife.

He’s the kindest and funniest and most wonderful kid brother any woman could have. He wife is sweet and gentle and is expecting their first baby.

He was fostered as a baby, like I was, and we only found each other a year ago, but we’ve been celebrating every day since then, and I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to have him in my life again.

We were taken into care, and adopted by different families, when he was two and I was six.

We both got great adoptive parents, his were not as dedicated as mine, and they didn’t keep us in touch with each other.


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I’m happily married and have two young children, and I’m really looking forward to being an auntie.

My brother works in the building trade, and his wife works as a sandwich maker.

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They have their own council flat. The baby is due in two months’ time.

His wife and I are really enjoying shopping for baby clothes. She’s a lovely woman.

But on the last trip she told me that there was something my brother couldn’t tell me, and she couldn’t either, but she said she had to tell me now.

It’s that neither of them can read, only very basic stuff. They can just about write their names, but they’ve had to have a social worker to help them out for reading.

I knew they had a social worker, but I didn’t know why. And that’s it.

She says she wants to read to the baby, and has asked me to teach her.

I haven’t got any teaching qualifications, but she says that it’s me or no one because they’re both too ashamed to go to classes.

She said he’d asked her to tell me. What do I do? This is a big, big problem.

I can read and write fine, but can I teach someone else to do this, even if I want to? HELP! I feel overwhelmed!

Dear Barbara: Deep breath. OK. Calm down.

Adult literacy is easier to teach than teaching children, because adults are usually highly-motivated, and especially these two, because they want to read for a genuine reason.

So, contact all the Adult Literacy centres in your area. Tell them that you need to learn fast how they go about teaching reading, and just take their advice.

You can do it. Of course you can! They have a reason – they want to read to their baby.

You have a reason – you want to help your wonderful brother out. It’s going to be just fine.

Imagine, you’ll be the one who helped your brother escape from his guilty secret.You’ll open up his world. How amazing is that?

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