While most children start learning to read in kindergarten, Dr. Joy Balls-Berry knew she was different, but did not understand why. What she did know was that reading did not come as easy to her as it seemed to for other children.

Being one of the smallest children in the class and not being able to read made her the target of a lot of teasing and bullying.

Balls-Berry was a good talker and could memorize the stories that she heard. She would pretend to read, recalling those stories that she had heard, and just prayed she was not called on by the teacher to read aloud because she stuttered when she read, as she was trying to figure out the words.

The stuttering resulted in Balls-Berry being sent to a speech pathologist, which she hated. Not the speech pathologist, but being pulled from her classroom to attend her speech pathology sessions. For a young child, it was embarrassing and provided additional ammunition for the bullies. The continued bullying impacted her self-esteem.

The speech pathologist determined Joy did not have a speech impediment, and by some miracle she was promoted to first grade. Passing first grade was easier for Balls-Berry because her teacher was out on medical leave for most of the year and she had a number of different substitutes who were not there consistently enough to notice that she still could not read.

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The next year it caught up to her and she was diagnosed with dyslexia and had to repeat the second grade. Fortunately, her parents were educators and could also afford to hire tutors to help her.

Balls-Berry continued to struggle with learning differently over her school years, but also focused on books that interested her and became an avid reader and mentor for other youth.

To hear more of her story, how she got away with reading Alice Walker's The Color Purple in fourth grade, and advice she gives the youths she mentors, listen to The Other Side of the Table podcast, Season 2, episode #12 Dr. Joy Balls-Berry Part 2.