Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Magical Moment

A book, a blanket and a smile... What else could
you possibly need? Well, I guess a
unicorn pillow pet doesn't hurt.
I may have mentioned once or twice around these parts that I am a reader. I'm not sure if I have mentioned that The Husband is a reader, too. He reads a little less, but a lot faster than I do and we tend to read many of the same things switching books back and forth.

Last year and earlier in this school year, Brynna was struggling with reading. Not to the point that I was worried, but it was something we had to work at and work we did. I was mostly concerned that all this work would make it seem somehow not fun to her. Reading is magical. The act of immersing yourself in story and floating around inside made-up people and places, exploring characters and setting, tackling new ideas from the safety of your own mind - there is, in my ever-so-humble opinion, nothing on Earth finer. I didn't want her to lose the magic, but I was very concerned that she be a strong reader.

Then midway through her first semester of first grade, it's like a switch flipped. She shot up the reading scale, leaps and bounds at a time and tackled words that she wouldn't have even tried before. She gained very important reading skills, but more so, she gained an irreplaceable confidence. She learned that she could do it. With help or without, she would get through.

It's been fun to watch her read my magazines and pick up books here and there and the more skill she's gained, the more I've backed off her. She's skipping along merrily without me and I wanted to give her room to find the fun again.

So last week, I had to have some work done on the car and we ended up with some time to kill and made our usual time-to-kill-trek to the library. We actually hadn't been for a while. The combination of terrible fines, lost books, and weird weather had kept us milling around our own collection. Our family rule is that you are allowed to check out one book for each year of age, so Brynna gets six and Maren gets two. They may check out whatever they like, and on the occasion that I want to get something to read to one of them; it counts in my pile.

Brynna wandered around picking and choosing, and I was honestly paying more attention to Maren (who doesn't understand re-shelving) and myself. Once we checked out, I realized that a few were the accursed Rainbow Fairy books. If you are not familiar with these insipid tales about pretty fairies with mundane problems, count yourself lucky. I immediately tried to get out of reading them.

"No, mommy, I'm going to read them," Brynna reassured me. I had my doubts. But the ride to pick up my car was punctuated only with "Maren, quit it. I'm reading." And once we got home, she plunked down on the sofa, made herself comfy and nearly finished the book. For the rest of the evening, I moved through the house, doing my usual week night chores and gazed in amazement at my own reader.

It was one of the proudest nights of my life. I can't begin to explain the magic of watching her read, independently, from a chapter book. There is truly nothing finer than seeing one of your loves reflected in your children. She hasn't picked up the next one yet, but I have faith. I am raising a reader and I couldn't be happier.


Mrs. Allroro said...


(not a typo)

Suze said...

This makes me happy!

Also, my friend Claire (who has a masters in elem ed) tells me that kids come into reading at different ages, which is why it's a shame that reading is pushed so early in schools. Some kids pick it up really young, like pre-K, and some don't really get it until 1st or 2nd or even 3rd grade.

Mrs. Allroro said...

Suze and Jessi, I was afraid it might not happen until much later for her. Like Suze's brother, I have a close friend who just started to love reading, and she is out of school and has been working about four years. She started reading this summer and has not stopped. I was so glad to hear it started early for you. I mean Brynna, of course...

I'm surprised she's reading the fairy books. A coworker said her 2nd grade daughter is reading teh same books because they are some of the only books written at a 5th grade reading level that have appropriate content for a 2nd grader. (Hope you don't have to face THAT battle too soon.)

Jessi said...

Suze - I do believe that reading is one of those skills that everyone develops differently. I never knew how much to push because on the one hand, I knew she had to be reading to move on in school, but I feel like you should kind of let it develop and reinforce slowly. This certainly takes off the pressure.

Mrs. A - One of Brynn's problems with reading has been that she has been interested in content that was above her reading level. We just finished reading "The Secret Garden" out loud. Hopefully, this will catch her up a little and she'll be able to find more that both interests her and is at her reading level.