She was seven years old….
…Speaking of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, I have a story… I always thought it was precious sentimental treacle preaching to the choir and didn’t have as much real effect as, say, Huckleberry Finn reaching and changing the unconscious racist mind. Then my aunt told me about the time she was given the book as a child. She grew up in the Jim Crow south, and it was just part of the environment to her. She thought the black neighbor’s kids didn’t HAVE to go to school and was jealous of them. The book changed that.
And she got mad. Especially when she found out those neighbor boys didn’t know how to read. So she sat them down in front of her little chalkboard easel and TAUGHT them. She was seven years old. The kids then taught their father, who was also illiterate. *Four people*, given the gift of reading, by one little girl. Who grew up to become a school district head librarian.
My aunt died this year at the ripe old age of 92. She was an amazing battle-axe of a woman who did not put up with shit, ever. And I stopped badmouthing Uncle Tom’s Cabin…
What I found amusing about my aunt’s story was she never mentioned, y’know, *asking* the three boys if they wanted to learn to read. It was not an option for them I think she could have intimidated a grizzly. Good skill to have if you are a school librarian.