Our road to reading started with books. Lots and lots and lots of books.
|Our out-of-rotation books
Did I say lots?
Books that I selected for reading for the quarter
I collect (hoard) books, I can’t help it.
|Special books that I keep in my closet
And I accept donations from my sister who has less impulse buying control than I do. She passes on to me her older children’s books in boxes.
|Books that I don’t know where to put!
And I keep them all! (Manic laughter) And my husband knits his bushy eyebrows together and lets out an unhappy (angry) sigh. And I relent and pass on some of our books to my younger niece.
But should he wonder about this love affair? I still have the books that I had as a little girl, perfectly preserved on a shelf in my mother’s house, left there with a warning to never, ever let anybody touch those books!
Hey, you see? I get highly excited about books. So, let’s go back to what I really want to talk about today: my daughter’s road to reading… or how she seemingly taught herself to read at age three.
We Read From Birth
Being the book lover (hoarder) that I am, we started reading to Little T and Baby Boy when they were still in my tummy. As soon as I recovered from childbirth, I started reading and singing to them. It was more about them hearing the words than looking at the pictures or the words themselves.
We Taught The Basics
For a few crazy months when Little T was two, we taught her the alphabet in a really fun way. Basic phonics soon followed. Then a niggling thought occurred to me, one that made me uncomfortable. I thought, why would we teach a two-year old child how to read when she was still a baby? Her job is to play and to explore the world.
So we stopped. Then we read about reading and decided not to stress about it. We learned that children will read when they are ready to read and that the strengthening of pre-reading skills, such as enjoying rhymes, is more important.
We did not set a timeline for when our daughter should be able to read. We were prepared to wait until she was ready. We were even willing to wait with the Fins, who start formal schooling at age seven.
We Continued Reading and Reading and Reading
We just continued doing what we have been doing all along: read.
We read before we get up from bed in the morning, we read when we nurse, we read in the bathroom (books about the potty!), we read before we take a nap in the afternoon, we read before we drift off to sleep at night. We read favorite books several times a day, sometimes in just one sitting, until our throats start to feel itchy. We read.
Then She Started To Read!
Then Little T started reading by herself. She first read road signs, book titles, headlines. I thought she was just guessing, the magic of sight words. Then one night, she read two full sentences of instructions for one of our toys. She was ever so pleased!
From then on, there was no stopping her. She would pick up books and read aloud. She proved every time that she could read and that she could understand what she was reading.
I was blown away. After all, I did not teach her the mechanics of reading. I did not even know about the C-V-C (consonant-vowel-consonant, I researched) combinations that some people asked me about.
We Provide Support
As Little T’s confidence in reading grows, she picks up longer books. She reads original chapters of Winnie-the-Pooh, though of course not in one sitting. She reads classic readers that are actually enjoyable: Else Minarik’s Little Bear books, Russel Hoban’s Frances books, and Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad books.
When she encounters difficult words, she gets frustrated and I ask Mr. Google for help.
One time she kept saying “bar” instead of “br”. A Google search led me to teach her the beginning consonant blends. I made a game by picking out a card (“br”, “cr”, “dr”, etc) and taking turns saying words that begin with the chosen sound. Two nights and we were done. “Br-” is now always “br”, “cr-” is “cr” and not “car”, and so on.
Reading Begets Reading
I am utterly convinced that being surrounded by wonderful books and being read to on a daily basis have provided our child a smooth road to reading. Reading begets reading. I couldn’t have taught her even if I wanted to.
I am not expecting that Baby Boy will also start reading by three. Every child is different. But we will continue reading to him lots and lots of books, lots and lots of times. There are three of us now who will take turns.
Reading begets reading.