Tired and frustrated are the words Rondre Hornbeak, 34, of Ardmore, uses to describe his life before learning to read.

Tired and frustrated are the words Rondre Hornbeak, 34, of Ardmore, uses to describe his life before learning to read.

“I was tired of asking people to read my mail.”   


“I was tired of looking at pictures in the magazines. I want to read the words.” “I couldn’t get no good job. If you don’t know how to read, you can’t do anything. I can count money, but I would get frustrated because I couldn’t understand stuff.”

Hornbeak now receives tutoring from the Ardmore Literacy Council.


“I was nervous, but now I’m reading better. I can learn to do stuff and understand my mail,” he said.


About a year ago, Hornbeak was encouraged by his family to learn to read.


“My grandmother told me how important it is to read,” Hornbeak said.


He also used to baby-sit his niece, who he said enjoys reading.

“My little niece takes time for me. She always reads books, and she encourages me,” Hornbeak said.


He began reading with her after they would watch the television show “Little Bill.”


“We would watch, then read (the “Little Bill” books). I started learning to read and pick up my reading skills,” Hornbeak said.


He has now spent a year improving his literacy skills with tutor Ersye Kirk.


“I like coming here. It gives me courage,” Hornbeak said.


The experience is much different from the one he faced in school.


“The teacher couldn’t take time for me, but the tutor can help me one-on-one and get my skills up,” Hornbeak said.


He has also written a short piece about his experiences for the “Celebrating Our Journey Volume 5,” an anthology for Oklahoma adult learners.


“I do get frustrated at times, but I think I am getting better. I do better when someone helps me and reads along with me,” Hornbeak wrote.


Hornbeak said he wants his work to help others who struggle with reading.


“I want to show people not to give up and have faith in God,” he said.


As his reading skills improve, he has begun to read more and more.


“I turned off my cable so I can read more books,” Hornbeak said.


In addition to the work of Bill Cosby, Hornbeak said he enjoys reading biographies.


“I just read a book about Harriet Tubman, and I liked one about Martin Luther King,” he said.


He plans to get his GED and then study either carpentry or auto repair at the Southern Oklahoma Technology Center.


“I have to know how to read before I can do it,” Hornbeak said.


Hornbeak also offers encouragement for others who struggle with reading.


“A person should not be afraid to learn to read, because it helps you accomplish your goal,” he said. “You’re going to be scared, but just have faith in God. Never give up.”