SACRAMENTO (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom opened up about his dyslexia to school children Friday, telling them he struggled to read as a child and recalling a time when he was laughed at by classmates for trying.
“I have a hard time reading out loud, and I had a hard time when I was your age reading at all,” he told kindergarteners. “If any of you have a hard time reading, that’s OK.”
Newsom visited a Sacramento elementary school with his wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, for Read Across America Day. The couple read two books to kindergarteners before speaking with a sixth grade class.
Newsom’s struggle to read stemmed from his dyslexia, which he didn’t mention directly to the students but has talked about during his political career. Dyslexia is a disorder that makes it difficult to read and comprehend written words, and Newsom has said he memorizes most of his speeches because of it.
But it didn’t stop him from reading a book about a young girl becoming an engineer to the students, after Siebel Newsom read a book about a young girl interested in science.
Newsom later told the sixth graders that his palms used to sweat and his heartbeat quicken when he was called upon to read in school as a child. He encouraged the students not to tease others who may learn at a slower pace.
“I had this horrible experience where people literally started laughing at me because I couldn’t read,” he said. “It still stresses me out. Don’t ever laugh at someone or talk down to someone ... everybody learns at their own pace.”