Before the controversial books like Your Baby Can Read!, in 1986 a man in Nigeria had a son and decided two things. First, he wasn’t going to talk baby-talk to him, but rather speak slowly in clear English. Second, he was going to read to his child as much as possible. That man was my dad, and best of all this program wouldn’t cost $169.99, like some baby-teaching methods; it would be free.

First it started out as pictures in encyclopedias, then it upgraded to learning letters and words from children’s books.

Throw Back Thursday

In honor of #tbt, I decided to finally digitize an old tape my dad made of one of our many learning sessions when I was a toddler. This tape was recorded in ’88-89 when I was two.

Before the recorded sessions, I also remember my dad showing me pictures from the encyclopedia.

Cassette Tapes

It was yesterday evening I realized I didn’t have a cassette player in the house. I couldn’t even remember the last time I saw my old cassette player. So a quick trip over to Walmart solved the problem.

First, I was a bit apprehensive that the tape would break if I tried to rewind or fast forward it. I was very close to hand winding it, rather than using the rewind button on my new cassette player. After all it’s at least a 25 year old tape. During my childhood, I’d seen tape players ruin brand new cassettes, and spew the audio film everywhere.

The copyright on the back of the case says 1979. I’m not sure if that’s when it was produced, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was around for several years in storage before it made its way to Nigeria and was finally sold to my dad.

I’d been the guardian of this tape since at least the 6th grade. It’s the earliest audio record I have of myself. My mother and father did video record my first birthday, but when relatives borrowed the video it was lost. I’ve never seen the video, and it’s gone forever. Years later, my parents sent their wedding video to Nigeria to be converted to American VHS, only for that to be lost by relatives as well. I’d never seen that one either.

So there was no way I was going to trust this tape to anyone but myself. For years I’d kept it sealed in a dry semi-air-tight pouch among my records, so it’d been safe from UV rays, moisture, and any other corrosive elements. I’d kept procrastinating getting it into digital form, but I finally got around to it.

Back up your stuff!

Seriously, though. Take a weekend and scan all your old photos onto your computer. Digitize videos and audio. Then back up your computer. Take a copy of that drive and put it in a safety deposit box at the bank. Once you lose analog data, it’s not coming back, so your best bet is to go digital. No one ever expects their house to catch fire. I’m only about 20% into my family history backup, but it’s going to be worth it once I’m done.

After contemplating over whether or not to rewind the tape, I realized ┬áthat it was made in Japan, so I decided to take the gamble. I’ve got mad respect for the Japanese. The stuff they make lasts forever! If it broke, plan B was to google “cassette tape repair”. Fortunately, everything worked flawlessly, even after 25 years. The audio quality still held up after all this time. I even googled the company and they’re still around!

Google screenshot of TDK

Google screenshot of TDK

After some tinkering on Garageband, I was able to create an album of some highlights, as well as digitize the entire 90 minutes of audio. It’s interesting how the lessons are interlaced with Christian music…music sung by what sounds like hippies.

Here are some clips from that tape that show some of the benefits, as well as difficulties of trying to teach a two year old. When I have a child of my own, I intend to keep up the tradition.

Cats and Rats

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B to the I to the G!

If you listen closely to the first few seconds, you can hear our African Grey parrot whistling in the background.

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Run and Gun

I read a book called Wild at Heart when I was a freshman in college. It said that almost all little boys love weapons, and it’s useless to try and keep toy weapons from them, because if you do, they’ll just make their own.

Also, my dad gets a little frustrated that the word “gun” has now ruined my concentration. “Stop playing.” LOL! Listen for yourself…

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Counting and Reading on my own

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Name the Colors

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The Monkey and the Banana

I’ve had this tape for as long as I can remember, but yesterday was the first time I’d listened all the way though. Apparently my favorite words were: banana, gun, big, and balloon, in that order.

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Multiplication

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Fade to Black

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I think many of the skills I have today were founded on the many hours my father would spend teaching me between the ages of 1 and 4. Read to and with your children. It’s never too early to start.