Have you ever been in a bookstore and nudged your friend with you to take note of the strange person next to you in the aisle. The one who is lovingly caressing book after book, smiling at one title like she has just ran into an old friend, and wrinkling up her nose at another like it just told her that her favorite pink skirt makes her look fat? The person who is oblivious to a ringing phone or to a crying kid (perhaps even if the kid looks like her and continues to call her Mommy) or even to the funny look teenagers are giving her as she makes her way through the YA aisle. If so, go ahead and say hello because I'm sure I will be glad to meet you...as long as you have a good book recommendation or you can help me with my valid dilemma of choosing between my current top twenty have-to-have-right-now books.
I can't remember not loving books, although I do remember not being able to read as I went to worship services as a little girl and longed to read the words to the songs on the page that mom helped me find....knowing that once those words made sense, I would have access to worlds and worlds of possibility. Recently, Ryder has been wanting me to find the pages in our songbooks for him, and although I remember that feeling of longing to know how to read, I still wonder what is it that keeps his interest in this pattern of letters that have yet to make words for him. I wonder why he cares if he's on the correct page since all the pages only hold random arrangements of letters for him right now (other than if he is looking through the pages to find Ws, of course :)
But tonight after services, I go home, and I bring down our dry erase boards, and we draw people and letters. We scribble and erase and draw again, and then I write c-a-t on the board and tell him to make the sounds, as we've worked on some before with the usual result being that he determines the letters c-a-t probably means pancake or some other unlikely answer, but this time....he pushes the sounds together to make a word, to make the right word...the one that other people who know the English language would agree that these letters actually spell...and he realizes what he's done....realizes that he has just read a word. So I write s-a-t on the board...and he again turns the sounds into a word. And so, of course, I write more combinations of letters on the board, changing beginning sounds and ending sounds and middle sounds over and over again, and he works to make the sounds and feel those sounds turn into words....and he just. gets. it. Not every time, of course. And there is some silliness and some guessing without thinking about it. (And by the way, C-A-R is tricky, because the A doesn't say "a" in this situation. Ryder sounded out the letters and came up with care...which is pretty good, although wrong...and so I helped with the A-R sounds) And I asked him several times if he was tired of playing because at this point, all I want is for this learning time to be fun for him-for him to love books and letters and reading. (Because he is only 3, and he hasn't figured out that learning is supposedly not fun). But he was astonished by the question. Why would he want to stop reading, when he's just learned he could do it??? Because there is some actual letters-turning-into-words, reading taking place. And there have been many mommy moments that I have been unprepared for, but to suddenly realize that Ryder can read? I had no idea just how powerful that moment would be. And I am amazed. And proud. And excited. I have been waitingforRyder to meet some of these old friends since he was born. He's already great friends with Sam-I-Am, and tonight I think I will introduce him to Amelia Bedelia :)
(Pictures: 1) Ryder "reading" in his playroom. 2) Ryder at Deer Park. This pictures is rather unrelated to this post, but I wanted a recent one here, too :)