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For the longest time I'd read the word "colonel" in a book without realizing that it's pronounced 'kernel'.
When I visited the public library as a little kid, I assumed most of the books in the grown-up section were filled with pictures of people "doing it".
When I was young my uncle had a big book of the complete works of Edgar Allen Poe. It had the name "Poe" on the spine in huge letters. Inside it had both short stories and poems. Once I saw this I assumed that Poe had invented poetry and people had named it after him.
When I was so young that I was still being read to at bedtime, my parents were working their way through the wonderful book "Robinson Caruso" when I began having some heavy-duty nightmares. When my parents asked me what was wrong, I finally asked, "Robinson Caruso didn't really kill and eat a little kid, did he?" When I found out we were talking about a young goat, the nightmares stopped...
Once, I found a very fascinating book in my mother's book case. I read the summery on the back, and learned the word, "Courtesan", as well as many others(all of which got me into some sticky situations). I reasoned that from the sound of the words and the summary that a courtesan was a female lawyer.
Bursting to show off my new word, I addressed my aunt, who was a lawyer. I...asked her what she did as a courtesan. What happened afterwards was Not Fun.
My mum's aunt gave her daughter a copy of Jackie magazine. She refused to read it as her name was not Jackie.
When in 1940 my sister was 12 she found the word "brothel" in a book and asked her father what it meant. he replied "a soup kitchen for poor people"
Her husband disillusioned her at the age of 20.
My mum told me that 'Grown up books' didn't go in chronological order after i asked if they did. She was being sarcastic but 3 year olds don't do sarcasm!!
I used to read 'Shopfitters' as 'Shoplifters'....wondered why they had a warehouse to advertise the fact thats what they did! Never dare ask my parents about it in case only I could see it!!
On 1st grade, I used to believe my classmates would think me too weird if they knew I could read fluently, so I sometimes faked it... especially when I came to a long word (just like they did). On 2nd grade, I didn't need to fake any more, because our teacher told us she'd learned to read at age 4 - same age as I.
When I was four, my daddy took me on the streetcar for the first time. I was pretty impressed, and felt I had to impress my dad as to my coming of age by proving I could read, and understand words.I read the sign over the driver's head to my dad, and told him, "I know what that means." He said, "What does it mean?" The sign read "No spitting on this car." I told him that it meant that people could not use nasty wordsge on the streetcar........i.e. "No spiting"...
I was told, at the age of 5, that "No Vacancy" at a hotel meant that no animals were allowed. (we were on vacation, I was talkative, parents were saying anything to answer my questions so I would shut up) Well, I grew up, but I never put two and to together, just would see a hotel/motel and believe that no vacancy meant they didnt allow dogs/cats. At the age of 11 (yes, 11!!) I was walking with some of my parents friends in Orlando, FL, and I mentioned "Wow, alot of places around here dont allow animals!!" Well... with alot of laughs,I finally understood. :-)
I believed that all of the fiction that I read were real in some parallel universe. That when things happened, they set up echoes or waves that could travel between the universes, and that some people could hear these waves and would write them down, and that this is how authors worked. I always wished I could live a more exciting life, in case anyone was reading about me. I believed that people like Benjamin Bathurst, the man who walked around the horses, had found a place where the boundaries between the universes were thin, and he got to go to another universe. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what such a thin place might look like, because I wanted to go to the universes where of Oz and Narnia and Star Trek.
When I was 7 I used to pick up one of my 'long' storybooks and start reading, then I'd sort of glance up to see who was around and I'd sneakily flip a huge chunk of the pages of the book. I would continue like this, reading little bits and skipping huge chunks until the book ended. I did it because I thought people would be impressed that I had finished the book so quickly. No one was.
As a pre-teen, when I read the back of the Aqua Net and it said, "caution: contents under pressure", I thought "contents" was a verb. I wondered for years how the can would content if it was put under pressure!
I used to like reading Marvel comics and such like. Quite often a story ended with a quote from the editor: "Nuff Said". I used to think that 'Nuff' was a person but I could never find any other references in the comics, no matter how hard I tried. I thought that everyone else knew who Nuff was but I didn't and I always felt kind of outside the gang. Gave me a real complex. Took me till adulthood to finally figure that out.
There was a game I wanted to play that I thought was called Togg-Ither, but I didn't know how to play it. I read it in a book where it said that the rabbits were playing it.
I was dismayed when my teacher actually told me I had read it wrong, and that the rabbits were playing 'together'.
As a young reader with limited travel
exposure, I read James Michener's, HAWAII without understanding Hawaiian pronunciation. I, therefore, thought the kings name Kamehameha was pronounced Kah Me Hah Me Hah
rather than Kuh May Uh May Uh as I later discovered. Then miraculously I became aware that I already knew his name.
i used to be a bit of a pretensious kid when i was younger, and thought one day that i'd give reading 'don quixote' a go. unsurprisingly i gave up shortly after, but it wasn't until years later that i found out the book wasn't about a bloke called 'don' whose second name was pronounced 'quick-sote'. genius.
I could never figure out what No unauthorised entry" signs meant, as I thought unauthorised was una-thor-sized. I was about 19 years old before I heard someone read one of these signs out loud and realised my mistake.
And there was a magazine that we used to get that would say on the cover "full story on centre pages", I thought it said "certain" pages and would spend ages flicking through the mage looking for the certain pages that the story was on!