Ramblings… Pokemon taught me how to read

You do not know boredom until you have experienced ‘road trip with your parents’ boredom. I-spy, songs about unheard of rivers and far too many ‘hey, that cloud looks like-’ comments infest every lull in conversation. It didn’t matter if we were driving to a 7-Eleven or Massachusetts, my parents always found a way to strain my attention span to the limits. I had to find a way to cope with the torture, so I turned to Pokemon.

   My parents bought me Pokemon when I was four years old. I played it on my Pikachu designed Game Boy and fell in love with the scope of the game. Initially, I used the game as a coping mechanism, to zone out of my surroundings during our road escapades. Especially, when my parents would start screaming along to songs about the Suwannee River in the background.

Most of my friends who played Pokemon skipped past the dialogue, or what they referred to as the “boring parts.” My friends, like most people, wanted to skip their vegetables and get right to the meat of it all: the gameplay. But I played Pokemon for a different reason. I became infatuated with the game’s story and characters. I had never before become so immersed in a story, and every decision I made felt like it truly mattered. I would read every line of dialogue multiple times, so I knew exactly what my character’s objectives were and why.

The only problem was, I had the reading skills of a four-year-old; probably due to the fact that, at the time, I was four years old. But I did not let that stop me. I would interrupt my parent’s debate of which utensil was more practical: a fork or a spoon, and ask them what key words meant in the text. They would explain the meaning of the word as best as they could, then I would re-read the dialogue to fully understand the sentence. This continued during both of my playthroughs of the game. This routine worked perfectly; though it was met by the occasional hiccup when I would ask my parents what “Pikachu” means. They would give me a strange look and ask “Are you pronouncing that correctly, sweetie?”

The more dialogue I understood, the more I enjoyed the game, causing me to become obsessed with all things Pokemon. What followed was an absurd amount of Pokemon plushies, birthday parties, and lo and behold, a fourth grader’s reading level by the time I was in first grade. Neither my parents nor I could have predicted this outcome. Not only did Pokemon assist in my reading comprehension, but it also launched my desire for knowledge and my love for the arts, an effect still reverberating through me to this day. Passions are sparked in unexpected places, and who would have guessed that receiving Pokemon for my fourth birthday would have been one of the most impactful events in my life.

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