Reading a string in MIPS assembly language

I am very new to writing in assembly.
My question is, if there is are bunch of characters entered in by the user, and I only want to access one character at a time, would the following code work for me? (The effect I hope to acheive would be similar to getchar() in C)


#code to read each letter, one at a time
buffer:     .space    1

      la  $a0, buffer
      li   $a1, 1
      li   $v0, 8

So the first time I use this code, "a" will be read, and next "b", and so forth. I am assigning a high value because this solution is needed very soon.  
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Seems, no...
And it is not the assembler problem but syscall for read string implementation.
Also pay attention that read string will put 0 at the end, so you need at least:
 buffer: .space 2

Aslo you can get the whole line: abcdef and then you can process one character at a time.


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