I’m watching our youngest begin to learn to read. And I want to capture every. single. moment.
This has been so different from my older two. My son…..well, I’m not sure I remember a time when he wasn’t reading. He just read. And I know there must have been a process and it must have been at least slightly gradual, but it was pretty much all internal. At some point during those two-mornings-of-preschool a week, he could read. I still remember nearly driving off the road as we passed the exit for “New Horizons Parkway” and his little voice piped up from the backseat: “Is that word ‘horizon?'”
It didn’t come quite that easily for my daughter. I remember her curled up with Henry and Mudge and Annie’s Perfect Pet, and practicing, practicing, practicing the page about the hutch Annie’s dad built for her bunny. It took a lot of work. It wasn’t nearly as easy as it had been for her brother. But by five, she was reading.
And now I have my littlest. While the older kids went to a church preschool (two years), half-day kindergarten and first grade in public school, my youngest has traveled a very different path. She’s attended a play-based preschool/kindergarten two mornings a week these past two years. We are playing around with All About Reading’s Pre-Reading level (by “playing around” I mean we started in early December and are still on capital W). That’s the extent of her “school.” Mostly what we do for reading is, snuggle up and read together. A lot.
And at six, she’s starting to read.
I feel like we had a few months of “she needs to learn more letters/ letter sounds;” the desire to read was there, but she was lacking an ability to sound anything out because she didn’t know quite enough. Suddenly, she knows her letters, she knows their sounds, and she knows it’s weird that “knows” starts with a “k.”
The babysteps started when we were reading the Sophie Mouse series. Each chapter title was written in such a nice, large, simple font, she wanted to sound out the words. So we did that together. Book after book.
Her other favorite way to practice is to hear me read a sentence, and then read it herself. She’ll listen to the words, then put her finger under each word as she repeats them back to me. Every book we read, I have to pause frequently, because I know there will be those moments of now it’s my turn.
It’s funny how things begin to click. Those two simple things have worked together and she’s really starting to get it.
At the library recently, they had an end-cap display with a matching game of farm animal pictures and words. She sat there, very quietly sounding out the words and matching them with the animals, while my older daughter looked at me in excitement. “She’s reading! She’s reading them!”
She was in her room the other afternoon and my husband heard her talking. “Do you need something?” he called.
“No!” she hollered back. “I’m just reading my book!”
Honestly, I’m not quite ready for that yet. I want to keep snuggling up on our bed with a pile of picture books; especially those nights where we have a “Big Read” and bring in a STACK of new books from the library. Or those times when we read a real chapter book (not an early-reader-knock-it-out-in-one-sitting) and she just doesn’t want to stop reading: Can we do another chapter of Ramona? first thing in the morning. I don’t want to miss the excitement on her face–she kept turning around to look at me in her enthusiasm–when Mary found the key to The Secret Garden (or her laughing eyes when Martha demonstrated how to jump rope). I do not want to give up that together time we have every time we read. I’m thankful we don’t have to. But I’m thankful, too, that the door to reading has been unlocked for her and she’s on her way through on her own.