Reading

August 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

Lena has these really specific bedtime routines with each of us. (Us being, me and my parents.) Pops reads Beatrix Potter stories. Nana snuggles and reads Cat in the Hat. Mommy yells at everyone to go to bed. I mean, just kidding, but not really. Nana and Pops are too easy with Lena at bed time. It is all about scaring her into staying in bed and falling asleep. And by all that I mean I’m the last snuggler, giver of ‘just one more hug’, and fetcher of ‘more ice please’.

The result of our different roles means that we all discover new things that Lena does at different rates. The other night, while the lights were out and I was snuggling for ‘just 10 more minutes’, Lena recited almost all of Cat in the Hat, and I didn’t even tell her to go to bed and be quiet and I think I stayed there for almost thirty minutes until she fell asleep because I was just so amazed that she could do it. Cat in the Hat is kind of a long book! And she had it down. I was amazed and then tired and I forgot to tell anyone, so the next night, after Nana’s turn to snuggle (I know I know, Lena is spoiled) Nana comes in the TV room where I’m sitting, and says, “Did you know Lena can read all of Cat in the Hat??”

This is not reading at all, I know that. It’s reciting, but I got started thinking about the reading bit because Aspen volunteers for the Durham Literacy Center, and it’s been amazing reading and hearing about what she’s learning and teaching there. It’s incredibly inspiring and also heartbreaking, how do kids slip that far through the cracks that they get to adulthood and can’t read. Can you imagine not knowing how to read? Almost all of the things that have inspired and changed me can be attributed to words.

But here’s where the policy stuff comes in, and the importance of early childhood education comes in, because if I was working two jobs to support us, and we didn’t have the amazing support system that we have that allows me to read to my kid every single day, literally. We even read a book on the way to school each morning. (Nana drives.) If we didn’t have this, Lena wouldn’t grow up to love books, and cherish reading. The thing about learning and listening and reciting, is that Lena’s not only getting that “reading” is good, she’s learning tone, inflections, cadence. She’s going to be a fluent reader, because she’s already a fluent reciter. That was one of the most surprising things, to hear in the car this morning these beautiful emphases on certain phrases of Curious George. It was amazing. And the thing is that anyone who’s EVER had a class even in COLLEGE where someone has to read something out loud, knows that fluent reading is not to be taken for granted. Seriously. Introduction to poetry was painful for that reason.

In conclusion, read to your kids. It’s good for them. But it is time for bed, so go to bed too.

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