Monday, February 15, 2010

Back when I only had one child, and didn't know many other babies, I naturally thought everything Elizabeth did was amazing, extremely advanced, and super smart.

Of course I did!

And of course it was! We just won't mention to the old me that there were a lot of other amazing babies in the world at the time.

One of the things I liked to do back then (besides photograph practically her every breath) was to take pictures of Elizabeth "reading". I loved to watch her intently study her books.

She has always loved to pore over picture books, loves to be read to, and has a very good memory for any story that she hears or sees. She didn't stop any of these things, but after Lilli was born I had less time to take pictures of moments of contemplation, and was always trying to catch the interactions between the girls or with other people. I hadn't realized that that the above picture was the most recent photo I have taken of Elizabeth holding a book until I went looking for one tonight for this post. I have tons of pictures of people reading to her, but I took them to capture the moment of togetherness with the other person, not with the book.
So, why did I need a picture?
David and I both learned to read at 4. I'm pretty sure his mother taught him how, and possibly considered him a "late reader" at 4, since his older sister had learned to read at a young 3, and quickly went up in reading levels (Her son also learned to read at 3, although it was a late 3). I had a favorite book called "Whose Mouse are You?" that I loved dearly and had memorized. From listening to my mother read it (following the bouncing finger), I knew that the scribbly things stood for each word that she was saying. One day I noticed that the words that sounded the same looked the same. And then I started seeing those words other places. Presumably I knew my alphabet at this time, so I'm sure that helped, although I don't remember anything about that, only about making the connection. I went on from there pretty quickly, and was a voracious reader from early on.
I've always hoped that my children would love books. I don't care if they like fiction or biographies or Manga, but I want them to know the joy of getting lost in a good book. I never cared whether they read early or late, fast or slow, with great comprehension or haltingly, I just wanted them to learn.
When Elizabeth knew the alphabet out of context (meaning she could tell you what letters were in any word she saw, as long as they were capitals, and had the spelling of several words memorized) before she turned 2, I (besides briefly thinking I had a baby genius on my hand, not true, Lilli did the same thing at the same age) thought we were off to a good start with reading. But she didn't suddenly pick up a book and start reading it like I kind of sort of had started to hope that she would. Instead, over the last two years she gotten closer and closer. First she learned to recognize the lower case letters, then she started to haltingly practice writing letters, and then she and David started working on her memorizing what sounds the letters make (we also have one of those magnet things. "A says A and A says 'Ah'"). Slowly she has started to make the connections, to learn the sight words, to recognize words that she sees all the time without sounding them out. She has memorized how to spell even more words, writes letters with much more confidence, even typed me an e-mail with Grandpa's help on the words she didn't know how to spell, and is Getting There.
She's still not a Reader, or rather, is such a new reader, that she won't be getting lost in the Little House books any time soon, but she will be there before we know it. We really value literacy in our home, we read as much as we can, and we treat our books well, and I'm happy to see her excited about reading, and to have not lost her interest in books even though we're making practically all her current experiences with books learning ones, and sometimes you can see that her brain is tired out.
Tonight she read two separate sentences by herself:
"Dear Elizabeth, I love you! Love, Mama"
"We have a cat, her name is Abby."
It may not look like much, but she did not need any help, and that is a milestone.
We went out for ice cream.

1 comment:

Sprite's Keeper said...

I love to read as well, but John isn't much for curling up with a good book, so I have to remember to always show Sprite how much I love it, hoping she'll take a cue from that. Right now, she is starting to trace her letters and will spell her name (wrong at first), but is nowhere near Elizabeth's progress. Yay on being an early reader! (Or at least a great beginner!) Love the pictures!