Books, children, goals, Life Talk, school


A possible near-future conversation between Joy and a librarian or teacher.

Librarian or Teacher, looking at Joy’s armful of books teetering nearly above her head: My, that’s a lot of books! Are you going to read all of them?

Joy: Yes, all by myself.

L or T: Really? How old are you?

Joy: I will be five in November.

L or T: And you can already read all those books by yourself? How did you learn to read so young?

Joy: I got bored.

End scene.

This kid, she amazes me. I really did start to teach her to read simply because she was bored. Bored to the point where she was getting into trouble out of frustration. She struggled a bit at first because it didn’t click immediately (and because I was an idiot and thought I could teach her with easy readers and flash cards – I’m sure that’s all some people need, but I am a lousy teacher and needed a curriculum), but we persevered (all of us – Joy and I did the official school books, but Carl would sit down and patiently work with her through regular books, even letting her read the bedtime stories sometimes), and then, ever so slowly, it started to come together. She would recognize one word when she saw it, then two. Then five. Then she could put together sentences. Then she started figuring out the whole “sound it out” business.

Yesterday afternoon, I walked through the living room and paused. Joy was curled up on the couch with “Mr. Putter and Tabby Pour the Tea,” which we had borrowed from the library last week and hadn’t had a chance to read together yet, and she was reading it. Out loud. By herself. Sounding out the words she didn’t know. Getting some of them wrong, but more of them right. Going back to re-read a sentence that she hadn’t added the proper emphasis to before. Immersed in her own world.

I very nearly burst into tears.

She finished that and picked up “Sam and the Firefly,” another library book, and read through that. Then she read through “Go Dog. Go!” She had to take a bathroom break partway through that one, and I sat in Carl’s study and listened as she read all the books we keep in there for the littles to look at while they use the potty (leftover habit from the days they were potty-training).

I quite honestly had a lump in my throat the rest of the evening. Reading has shaped my life, my very nature, for as long as I can remember. It has been one of the deepest desires of my heart that my children share the same passion and love for the written word as I have. Seeing this love take root in Joy is one of the most rewarding moments in parenthood I’ve had thus far.

She’s reading. My kid is reading.

It still blows my mind.

Now I just have to keep from going absolutely crazy on Amazon and buying every easy reader I can find. I just want to shower her with ALL THE BOOKS IN THE WORLD, but that’s what libraries are for, and I don’t want to deprive her of one of my other deep-set joys, which is finding those amazing books at the library, and the thrill of bringing them home to read.

Taken first thing this morning after she came downstairs. Please ignore the mound of clean laundry next to her. It was a long weekend.

I have a reader. A real live reader. Somebody pinch me!

By the way, the scene up top would never really happen. Joy hates talking to strange adults. I can’t really blame her; I’m not crazy about it either.

12 thoughts on “Reader”

  1. It really is amazing. And little sister is desperate to keep up (of course!), so it wouldn't surprise me at all if she doesn't figure out this reading thing for herself in another year.

  2. Absolutely awesome. :) My mom started me when I was 4, too. Have you ever looked into Paperback Swap? It's a more economical way of getting books, even cheaper than buying used online because shipping is ALL you pay… about $2.50 a book in the end. And I hope she gets More Spaghetti I Say, (or at least gets to read it) because it was a favorite of mine, and all the kids I babysit request it now. It's a really fun easy-reader. :)

  3. One of the greatest joys I've ever had was teaching my children to read. Giving your children the gift of words is like nothing else.Yay for you and your daughter!!!

  4. What an amazing reader Joy is…and what an amazing Mama you are, for teaching her so well and encouraging her. I am so excited for her, the places she'll go, and the people she'll meet on her reading journey (both in and out of books). I wonder if she'll love Anne and Rilla…and if her love of them will bring her treasured, close friends who love them just as much.

  5. I know, isn't that amazing to wonder about? Which book characters will become her dear friends, and what sort of people will she get to know because of them … the world changes so much once you are a reader.

  6. We are working our way through the easy readers at the library right now. If we run out of ideas ourselves, I know we can always ask the children's librarians there!

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