Reading: Fulfillment of a dream

Photo of my 5-year-old daughter reading a board book to her 2-year-old brother.

I took this photo this morning. On a good day, we have about 20 extra minutes before Big Sister heads to kindergarten. We fill that time with Sister reading to her brother, an activity she enjoys doing.

Her reading journey has gone through three stages, so far.

We began with our reading her many books as a baby/toddler. In hindsight, I now know that if you ask a kindergarten teacher what you can do to prepare your child for kindergarten, you will be advised to read to your child every day. Far and above, it’s the single best thing you can do for your child.

Months before her third birthday she made it known she wanted a library card as a birthday gift.

Then, at 3-years-and-4-months-old she began reading Bob Books at home, and a little earlier at her Montessori preschool. Bob Books are designed to teach the basics of reading. We let her guide her own progress, choosing when to read or not. She chose to read to us a couple times a week at bedtime.

When she learned she would become a sister, we pitched the notion to her that she should practice more so she could read books to her future sibling. She took the goal to heart.

She became a great reader for her age, but one element was still missing. She always read to someone; she didn’t read for personal enjoyment.

The tide turned at the start of kindergarten last fall. Her English teacher has a book check-out program. She selects a book from the classroom library, reads it at home, Mom or Dad signs it off as read, and she returns it to check out another. Every day she was excited to read her teacher’s book, as if its coming from her teacher imbued it with magical qualities.

Here we are six months later. We’ve been told she’s at a fourth grade reading level, with regard for her ability to pronounce words she’s not seen before. Functionally, she’s reading the Flat Stanley series right now at bedtime, which is rated for ages 4 to 8. Chapter books are harder because she usually doesn’t complete them in one sitting.

She pulls books from our home library to read to herself. She pulls books to read to Dad when we go on a car trip (her idea). She reads to her brother in the morning before school. I reminded her today that all of this was a goal she set for herself and handily accomplished.

Photo of my daughter reading to her brother. She is wearing a plastic Viking helmet. He is wearing a yellow plastic construction helmet. The book they are reading is titled Hats.

I accidentally left our hallway baby gate open. If it had been closed, my non-verbal son would have cried out when he jumped from the futon and tried to run down the hall… and I would have plopped him back on the couch with a warning.

Instead, he ran to his room and fetched a Viking hat for his sister. Then he ran back and fetched a construction hat for himself… because Sister was about to read him a book about hats.


6 Responses to “Reading: Fulfillment of a dream”

  1. Dani says:

    How wonderful. What a beautiful way for them to start the day together.
    I hope you let us know how your son is coming along with therapy. I remember that you had him evaluated but wasn’t sure if you had started anything yet with him.
    It’ll come. Perhaps after lots of hard work and perseverance but hopefully it will come. We’re currently celebrating the fact that my son, age 4 and a bit is finally able to jump (sort of). It’s a strange sort of hop but both feet leave the ground and it’s a enormous progression from where we started.
    Good luck. You should be so proud of both of them. :)

    March 23rd, 2010 at 2:31 pm

  2. Martha says:

    How cool! And an inspiration for big sisters and brothers everywhere! That’s impressive that big sister wanted a library card at 3 and enjoys reading to her brother so much.

    March 23rd, 2010 at 4:32 pm

  3. Larry says:

    Wonderful to see the children so happy. I remember Little Miss’ song “Babies just like to have fun.” Well , mission accomplished. Happy Birthday to all your bds are so close together.

    March 24th, 2010 at 2:10 am

  4. Judy B says:

    That “Hats” picture made my day :)

    March 24th, 2010 at 7:26 am

  5. Patti says:

    I worry that our youngest (just shy of 2) won’t read in the same way his older brother (about 4 1/2) does, because we haven’t spent as MUCH time reading with him. The older one had a bedtime ritual that included 3 books a night up until he turned 2, when the book count went down to 2, and then by the time his younger brother was born it went down to 1. Older brother was a confirmed reader at 3 1/2, much to our surprise.

    Younger brother gets to participate in the book at bedtime, but we don’t read to him *alone* nearly as often. And at bedtime he may sit down and pay attention, or he may decide to go gallivanting off. I worry that our personal inability to carve out extra time for reading to the younger child will translate into him reading at a different pace… not because it is his natural curve, but because of our different treatment of him.

    March 24th, 2010 at 11:22 am

  6. Jeremiah says:

    It’s amazing how motivating other children can be. As homeschoolers, we seek out any opportunity for Z, an only child, to show things she has learned to others, as it helps her piece together her knowledge. Likewise, the potty-training light bulb really went off in her head during an overnight visit to a much-admired older-child friend’s house.

    March 25th, 2010 at 7:00 pm

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