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My Daughter is Reading!

Emma Walton Hamilton / Blog  / My Daughter is Reading!
My Daughter is Reading!

My Daughter is Reading!

My daughter is reading.  It happened overnight, or it least is seemed that way.

Hope just turned six, so it’s age appropriate, but I’m still overcome with emotion and pride every time she picks up a book (which is almost hourly at the moment) and says “Let ME read it to YOU!”

KidsReadingAnd I continue to be awed by the beauty of the process. Often she sounds out the letters and words – but mostly she breezes right across the page, including words that I can’t believe she is reading, like “actually” or “ice-skating” or “peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”  In these cases, it’s all about association – from the other surrounding words in the sentence, from the pictures (if there are any), or from her innate sense of the direction the story is taking. Occasionally, she will look to me to help her decode a word, and I quickly comply.  I might invite her to sound it out, if I think it’s a word she knows or can easily decipher – but more often than not I’ll just give it to her, since my goal is for the process to continue to unfold as joyfully as possible.  I know that the moment it shifts from being fun to being pressured will be the moment she turns away from it.

Yesterday, Hope received a thank you note in the mail from one of her classmates, and she tore it open and read it to me with palpable excitement.  It reminded me that I must take care to make my lunchbox notes to her as legible as possible now, since I imagine she is reading them herself instead of asking the teacher to do so (no easy task, since my handwriting skills have deteriorated at the same rate as my computer skills have improved over the years.)

These are among the golden moments of parenthood, the moments in which I can either help my daughter build the foundation for a life-long love of reading, or squelch it.   My most challenging job in the days ahead will balancing my own enthusiasm and support of her independent reading skills with a continued commitment to reading aloud to her.  I know that no matter how well she may be reading herself, her listening and reading skills won’t converge until around 8th grade, and that there is tremendous value in reading to children well beyond the years when they learn to read for themselves.

By continuing to read to her, I invite her to stretch gently up to material she isn’t yet reading for herself.  I help her continue to grow her vocabulary, provide diversity in her reading experiences and encourage her to discover which books, authors, subjects and styles she likes best.  I can model reading techniques, and convey nuance, character, style and tone – elements of reading that often get lost when the main focus is on decoding.  But most importantly, every time we snuggle up and  read together, whether she is reading to me or I am reading to her, I am helping to strengthen her continued associate between reading and pleasure.  Not to mention my own!

I’d love to hear about your experiences with your children learning to read!  Tell me your story in the comments below!

Emma Walton Hamilton
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