Rare Air by Jodi Thomas

The word “dyslexia” was first coined in 1887 by a German physicist who described the condition as a “very great difficulty in interpreting written or printed symbols,” but the term “learning disabilities” didn’t come around in the U.S. until 1963.

  • About 15% of the United States population has a language-based learning disability
  • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which saw its start in 1969, now provides students with learning disabilities the assistance they need to excel in school alongside their peers.

I’ve heard it said that a writer develops in rare air.

I grew up in the east part of town a block away from the Texaco refinery.  In the daylight it was an ugly collection of pipes, but at night I thought it was a castle.  As a kid I never let reality get in the way so I spent many nights dreaming up stories.   I also had younger twin sisters who were always willing to listen to my tales.

Unlike most writers, I didn’t read early.  In fact, if it hadn’t been for my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Dickerson, I might never have been much of a reader and therefore never a writer.  She spotted a learning disability and suggested I attend a reading school one summer.  I rode the bus downtown every morning and walked several blocks to the school.  I often stopped to play at a little park sliced in-between buildings and highways.  All alone each day, my imagination took over.  I don’t remember much about the reading lessons, but I can still walk in that little park and meet up with old imaginary friends.

School didn’t come easy for me.  I think I’m probably the only Caprock High School Hall of Fame graduate who was in the bottom fourth of the class.  I never remember a teacher telling me I was gifted; it was usually more like “pay attention.”  By fifteen I was working part-time jobs after school and sleeping through class.

By the time I entered Amarillo College, I was checking groceries and paying my own way.  So, I paid attention.  Two years later my boyfriend, Tom was going to Texas Tech, so I applied.  All I ever wanted to do was write but since I showed no sign of ever learning to spell, my mother suggested Home Economics.  Two more years passed and I’m married, Tom’s in the army and I’m teaching Home Economics and Earth Science to seventh grades.

My writing goal seemed a million miles away.

But, the wind blows in Amarillo and things change.  All those nights alone waiting for Tom to come home gave me time to read, really read, and take courses on writing, and begin my journey into fiction.

Now, 37 books later my editors sometimes ask, “Why don’t you move to New York where the action is?”

I always say, “No thinks, I’ll stay in the rare air of Amarillo with Tom.”

 

Acknowledgment

When I was a kid I never heard of dyslexia.  All I wanted to be was a writer.  Thanks Mrs. Dickerson for helping me make that journey.

Please visit me at Jodi Thomas.com

 

To two lucky winners, I will send you a copy of my newest Harmony Series

Can’t Stop Believing

 

Guest Blogger
Updated: June 1, 2013 — 8:10 am

28 Comments

  1. My husband has a hard time reading. He says it’s dyslexia, but has never actually been diagnosed with it. With his job (mechanic), he has to read a lot to fix cars. It takes him a little longer but he seems to excel when it comes to the repairs. I used to dream of moving to a big city, but I like the part of Texas (Mesquite) we live in. We have the best of both worlds. We have the country if we go east and all the restaurants and shops of the city close by. Except for the hot summers, I don’t think I would want to live any place else either.

  2. My son so had a learning disability. It wasn’t dyslexia but he couldn’t comprehend what he read. They the help of a teacher we learned he could understand things better if he heard it orally! I knew he was smart at some things, but had trouble with others. He loved baseball and NASCAR . He could name every player/ drivers position or statistics. He could remember anything someone told him. He earned the nickname bellsouth (phone company) because he never forgot a phone number! So all thru high school his test and work were give orally and did so much better! He is 29 now and still lives at home. He works a full time job and just bought his forts new truck.
    People with disabilities often get left behind, but this teacher took the time and helped him succeed.
    I love your books Jodi and so glad you over came your disability!

  3. What an encouraging testimony Jodi. I’m so glad you didn’t let the things of life and your difficulty in school keep you from your dreams. When I was younger I really didn’t have a disability and I graduated in the top 10% of my class but I did have a problem with reading comprehension. I stayed away from reading for years, even though as a young child I read voraciously. Then one day about two years ago, I heard an author speaking on our local Christian station about some of her books. I was drawn in, stopped at the library on my way home, checked out every one of her books on the shelf and quickly read them all. I had the opportunity to meet that author in a “God encounter” a couple years ago. Her daughter-in-law worked where my husband worked and we met at a company picnic. She spoke to me that day about writing. I’m working on it. 🙂

    I would love to be entered to win a copy of your book CAN’T STOP BELIEVING. Thank you for the opportunity.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  4. Love that song – “Amarillo by Morning” 🙂
    No one with learning disabilities in my family. Though my husband has trouble reading. I made the mistake of questioning if he had a learning disability, and that did not go over well.
    So glad you started writing and fulfilled your dream. Thank you for the book giveaway.
    josieringer(at)gmail(dot)com

  5. Thank you for that inspiring story, Jodi. No wonder your readers love you.
    I have a brilliant friend with dyslexia. She’s managed to do some amazing things with her life but still stumbles occasionally over words. My hat is off to people who deal with disabilities and go on to do what they were meant to do.

  6. What an inspiring post! Much love to Mrs. Dickerson and credit to you for persevering.

    My oldest son struggles and I remember the first time he developed enough skill to read a book and actually lose himself in the story. Magic.

  7. Jodi, welcome back to the Junction! We always love it when you come. You always have something interesting to say. I’ve never dealt with dyslexia but it must be very frustrating. I’m so glad, and the world is glad, that you got it resolved and went on to write so many wonderful, amazing books. I’ve already had the pleasure of already reading CAN’T STOP BELIEVING due to a very generous friend and this book captured me. You put so much emotion and heart into this story. I think more than any other. Everyone will agree once they read these new Harmony people and revisit the stories of the old characters. I cried and I laughed and my heart swelled. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in a while.

    Wishing you much success, dear lady!

  8. What an encouraging testimony Jodi. I’m so glad that with your difficulty in reading growing up didn’t keep you from your dreams. Growing up I had issues with speech and reading comprehension. When I was in 4th grade, my teacher had me go to a special reading class which help me tremendously with my reading comprehension. All through school I was in a special speech class but when I went to 7th grade I decide not to take that class anymore because to me it wasn’t helping me very much. I still have problems today pronouncing a lot of words. I didn’t learn about dyslexia until I meant a instructor at college who had it and started the first day of classes by telling everyone that she was dyslexia. After talking to her and finding out about switching different letters and numbers in things was a sign of dyslexia sometimes makes me wonder if I don’t have it. I have never been tested to find out for sure though.

  9. I love the others in this series. I’d love to win this one.

  10. Hi, Jodi. Thank you for that beautiful, inspiring story!
    I love reading, but I read slowly, which surprises people because I read so much!
    Although I haven’t read any of your books yet, I’d love to win Can’t Stop Believing.

  11. Well thank the Lord you where so determined to become a writer. Think of all the wonderful stories that wouldn’t have gotten told.

    My brother and niece both suffer from dyslexia and is a very difficult thing to deal with.

    Thanks so much for sharing your life and stories with us.

    May God Bless

  12. Thank you for sharing.

  13. Jodi,
    Thank you so much for telling a little bit about your story. What a great triumph that you accomplished. I mean look at all you have achieved! Im such a big fan of yours. I love hearing you tell the story about your teacher who encouraged you even though you didn’t really feel like it. When I was growing up I never had someone like that to encourage me until I was a lot older and now I cant get my head out of a book. It is those kinds of people who take the time to invest a little seed of something into our lives that help shape us to who we will become. Im so glad that you found a way to journey through your struggle. We have all been blessed by your accomplishments.

  14. Thank you, Jodi, for sharing your story. It was so moving and such an amazing success testament. I’m so glad that you had such a caring teacher to help you get started on your journey. I’m happy you persevered.
    Blessings…

  15. Enjoyed reading the comments. One of my sons was dyslexic adn to this day reads very slowly.
    Your book sounds really good.
    I thank all of my Home Economics teachers-I learned to cook and sew from them.

  16. Welcome to the Junction, Jodi. What an inspiring post. Thanks for sharing your story. So glad you persevered as I’m a HUGE fan.

  17. Avatar

    What an inspiring story. Thankfully there are teachers who care enough about their students to seek out the reasons why they are having difficulty learning.

  18. Jodi thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Congrats on all that you have done and continue to do. I had a friend in school with a reading disorder… she had to take her time to do everything, but it never stopped her…

  19. I would love to win your newest book in the series. Thank you

  20. I have enjoyed so many of your books. I would like to give a “thank you” also to Mrs. Dickerson. Your story helps to prove there is always hope.

  21. Enjoyed your blog today. As a former teacher I had students with learning disabilities often in my classes. I tried not to overlook them and include them in all our activities as best they could handle them. We visited relatives in Amarillo when I was little so don’t remember much about the town. Would love to visit again some day. Have a good day.

  22. Thanks for sharing. I worked for 21 years as a para in a special education situation. I found that mostly it was a case of learning differently rather than a disability. I loved it when I saw a student “get it”! As with any other student we just need to find that spark and include them when possible. I miss my special kids.

  23. My brother was dyslexia and he never learned to read. He really tried but just couldn’t do it. He passed through school due to physical growth. I know one time in science class the teacher gave him a test orally and he made a better grade then I did. He could tear a small engine down and put it back together with no problems but could never learn to read. I can read but am very slow at it. I do read all the time though. Also my husband had a stroke about ten years ago and now he has some problems reading. Reading gives me so much pleasure, I just can’t imagine not being able to read at all.

  24. Hello Jodi. Before I married we lived about 109 mi. from Amarillo. A small town called Texhoma. The state line divided the town. We lived in Texas. I had to move away from there for my Asthma, but my folks lived there till after my daddy died. A short time after that the older kids said she needed to move in with one of the older girls. A lot of folks went to Amarillo to do big shopping. How do you like the tumbleing weeds? Some are really large as they roll across the highway. One of my grandsons had a hard time doing his homework and test. But had a great memory for lots of things. He finally went to a school that let him his test orally and did great. Please enter me for the book.
    MAXIE mac262(at)me(dot)com

  25. What a beautiful and inspiring story. Your post gave me strength and was uplifting. Thanks for sharing and best wishes.

  26. Your teacher was a wonderful mentor and your perseverance is to be admired. what a success story which is special.

  27. What a wonderful heartfelt story from my favorite author. It just shows us that we can do anything we want even when obstacles are placed in our path. Sometimes we stumble but many times we can step right over them to get where we want to go. I met Jodi eleven years ago when I decided to take a writing class so I could fulfill a dream of writing a cookbook. She’s been my mentor, as well as mentor to thousands of other writers who have struggled but never lost their dream. Like Jodi, I didn’t read until I was in the third grade but mine was because in Amarillo at that time (following WWII oops, I just told you my age) we had a huge air base and so many children entering school that we only went to classes in portable buildings a half a day. I’m sure it equated to about three hours a day … that lasted for several years. I also had a fantastic teacher who recognized what was going on with me and gave me special attention.

    Although my father was well educated my mother wasn’t. I’m sorry yet pleased to say, although Mama could read magazines and the like, she never read a novel until she met Jodi. When Mama passed away, she had every book written by Jodi, as well as a dozen other authors like Leigh Greenwood. If it hadn’t been for Jodi Thomas, my mama would have never discovered the thrill of reading and the excitement of being carried away by a story.

    I know when she returns, she’ll read each and every one of your comments, as she loves her readers so much.

    Jodi’s blog today put out to the world the lovely and vulnerable side to her own life, but also is one of the reasons she is able to layer in such heart in each and every one of her stories. Her newest Harmony “Can’t Stop Believing” will fill your soul with love and laughter, happiness and sadness, as the wonderfully flawed hero Cord McDowell returns to Harmony, Texas.

    I owe everyone an apology. Jodi is out of town and was unable to get Internet access, so I promised that I’d watch her blog and make comments in her absence. Unfortunately with the hail storm in the Texas Panhandle, I got tied up with adjusters and the clean up and didn’t fulfill my duties. My thought and prayers go out to our friends and readers who were so severely affected by the storms over the last ten days. Much love to all, Phyliss

  28. Great post, Jodi. I fell asleep trying to write my comment. Hit the delete button 2+ paragraphs in and gave up. Need to visit my favorite blogs before midnight. Dyslexia is an important subject. One of my daughters and her son both have it. You were lucky you had a teacher that helped you out. Our daughter was diagnosed early and didn’t get any help once she was. The scool district where my grandson goes offers no help at all.

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