Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Well-Worn Path

Of course I knew he would learn to read. At the beginning of the school year, he was sounding out the obnoxious but helpful Bob Books, but it has always been a stretch for me to call that reading. Bob Books are to reading what “Chopsticks” is to playing the piano. I haven’t pushed him. I’ve been scared out of my wits to prod him towards “Pup in Cup” or “Green Eggs and Ham”. See, I would manage throughout the remainder of my life if he

never memorized what 7+5 equals, but if I do something stupid and turn him off regarding reading, well, that would be just tragic. I may never recover. (Please hear SOME of my sarcasm here. Some.)

By the grace of God, he showed some interest a couple of weeks ago and I pulled out One Fish, Two Fish...... you know, that one. Pie. Easy. Wow. Since then, he has started trying to read words wherever he finds them. Now, he’s been doing that for a year or more but not when the words are all strung together in sentence form. The letters he now sees finally form fluent sounds in his brain and hit the air as actual words and not staccato vowel/consonant sounds. I remember being amazed when it happened to Julia. Words for which I knew we had studied no phonogram or “rule” would just roll off her tongue. When it is solely your responsibility to pass this milestone, there is call for celebration.

I had been saving a book for quite some time for this very occasion-- the occasion of his walking, no jogging, down the well-worn path of all the sounds, letters, words and stories he has heard from infancy. All the day, the book was in plain sight, wrapped only to create curiosity and a tad of anticipation. Of course, all day several times that day, he had to know whose it was and when did he get to open it. “Tonight. Just me and you. On the couch.”

All day I was a bit nervous about his reaction. I know this kid. He’s the one that caused me to come up with the brilliant idea of serving up very hot or very cold drinks for reading time. (Last WAY longer) He’s the one who always feels the thickness of the right side of the book in my lap trying to calculate how much longer he has to suffer. He’s the one who can find 27 different ways to sit by me while we read. He’s the one who never can seem to get the blanket “just right” and seems to be wrestling with an octopus under it while we read. But he’s also the one I’ve seen show strong emotion when he sat still long enough for the story to lodge in his heart.

Once on the couch that night, he unwrapped the book. “The Adventures of Little Bear” by Else Holmelund Minarik. His first reactions were to the fact that it was a hardback book-- a semi-thick one at that. He turned it over and over, flipped the pages as his dimple “dimped”. Suddenly, he started scooting off the couch yelling for Julia. “Look! Julia, look! I’ve got a big book like you read!!” With a smile that could possibly depict everything sweet and thrilling about childhood, he held it proudly in front of his chest for her to see. She must have gotten a little too close. In an instant, the sparkling grin vanished and he shot his eyes over at me, “It’s MINE right, Momma?”

Of the five timeless chapters that hadn’t changed since I was six, he read the first one. His smile came back. He was proud. He could read.

Now, if we could just do something about the “Captain Jack Sparrow” base running.......


Alyssa said...

This brought tears to my eyes just thinking of what a great milestone for the two of you to celebrate and how creative you made the anticipation and the celebration. Sweetness!

Patti said...

I am also deeply encouraged by the "magical culmination"--that there is a point when reading is fluid, and not just letter sounds and blends and choppy staccato words strung together. I learned to read really early and remember nothing of the process, which makes enduring it with my emerging reader a bit tedious and anxiety-inducing.

We also love Little Bear very much. A Kiss for Little Bear is probably our favorite.

Sarah said...

what a special way to celebrate an accomplishment! good job krista!

TJ Wilson said...

can picture that dimple. ;) a magical moment indeed - go B!