Saturday, January 07, 2006

Read it and Weep

Not to brag or anything, but the Jooge is reading.

Now, before you doubt me, let me tell you, I was a TEACHER before I was a mom, so I KNOW READING. I taught first graders and second graders, even third graders to read over the seven years that I was a professional. And she's reading.

Of course reading has phases, and my darling two-and-a-half-year-old finds herself presently in one of the earliest phases of reading, one where "retelling" stories from memory is the norm. Some kindergarteners can't even do this because they aren't used to being around books or sitting on laps for stories.

Right now she is sitting in her sister's crib next to me retelling the story of The Fourteen Bears of Summer and Winter, a true childhood favorite of mine. There's a page where the author lists all the bears that were in the family and they all have names like Veronica and Hannah, Ramona and Virgnia. So she's on that page and she keeps saying, "Vemonka, Viginia, Vemonka, Viginia," as she points to all the bears. Not only is it cute, it's a pretty good imitation of what's been read to her. She repeats phrases verbatim, and when I listen to her, cozied up and using an intimate hush for her ears only, I am amazed by her memory and by the way she repeats the very things I read on automatic pilot. She just said, "The breeze blew," actual language from the story.

I had a first grader one year who was really struggling with reading. I encouraged the kids to read nightly with someone at home. At conferences the mom said to me (in front of her daughter) "She's not REALLY reading, she memorized it." It just killed me. Her mom failed to acknowledge a natural developmental phase of reading as legitimate progress towards the real thing. Let's not even go to the place she put her child by discounting her efforts.

The bottom line is that reading has come to Jooge because she's been surrounded by books, read to often, in a home where reading is valued. The single largest predictor of children's success with reading is being read to at home.

I'm very proud of Julia's love of books and stories, her way of being captivated by characters and language. It's one of the best gifts I've given her.

1 comment:

Erin Wirtz said...

congrats on the reading milestone. I agree, reading is a gift. where would we be without it?