Sunday, November 26, 2006

small miracles

Tonight Paul and I were playing Scrabble (more on Scrabble later). Moses was milling around the table, talking to us. He stood looking over my shoulder at the board and whispering under his breath. He does this a lot. When he is telling a story he will often whisper a word to himself first, to kind of try it out and see if that's really the one he wants, and then speak it aloud. "Today I was playing on the purple ( equipment at recess."

He was looking over my shoulder and saying, "That says (j...jet) jet. That says (woah-man) woman." And I realized that he was reading the Scrabble board. He was READING the Scrabble board. This is my Kindergartener who only in the last month has shown any interest in letters and what sounds they was like a little switch turned on in his brain a few weeks ago. And tonight he was reading the Scrabble board.

We have a set of books called Bob Books that are for this very very first reading. I bought them for Phoebe when she started Kindergarten and they were the first thing she read. They come in a box of ten tiny little booklets with texts like "mat, cat, hat" and pictures for each word. I told Mo to go find those and we'd read them at bedtime.

He came back a few minutes later saying he couldn't find the Bob Books, but did find Dick & Jane. Mo sat next to me at the kitchen table and slowly started reading, "Look, Dick. Oh, oh! Dick, look! See Sally? See Sally and Spot? Look, Dick. Look at Sally and Spot."

It was the most amazing thing. One minute: non-reader. Next minute: reader. I was totally transfixed by the workings of his six-year-old brain. How did that happen?

With Phoebe we worked on those books--typical first child stuff. We went over letters and we sat with those books long before she had any success with them. I mentally charted exactly what she knew. We'd try the Bob Books, which she initially found very frustrating (and so did I, because she wasn't ready) and I'd put them away for a few weeks and then try them again. And slowly...slowly...through force of will she'd make those letter sounds, haltingly, pronouncing each syllable correctly but unable to make sense of the word until finally she read. I say "finally" because we put a lot of work into it, not because she was by any means a late reader. And I don't think I was pushy about it -- I was just a little more involved than perhaps was ideal.

So, because of my first-child-is-always-an-experiment-tactics, Phoebe's reading was a reward for her efforts. Whsch is fine. It's great. She practiced and she read and now she's an amazing reader and gets as much pleasure out of reading and being read to as Paul & I do. Mission totally accomplished.

But Mo's reading tonight seemed like magic. Abbra Cadabbra See Dick Run.

No comments: