Simple pleasures
My daughter showed early promise of becoming a good reader. She had excellent phonemic awareness and learned the sounds of the letters, even before learning the alphabet. Yet before kindergarten, she began decoding simple words and by first grade was tackling words quite beyond her grade level. She even had good comprehension strategies which seemed to surpass her actual reading ability.

But at the beginning of second grade, she was still lacking one important characteristic of a strong reader: fluency. While she could tackle words such as treasure and enigmatic, she was still sounding out simple words like sun and tent. Her frustration level was low, even for simple texts. What she needed most was practice. But sustained reading seemed beyond what she was willing to do. I fought the urge to force her to read a specific amount of time each day, preferring instead to have her tackle short and simple texts multiple times throughout the day. At the same time, I tried to foster her love of literature through audio books and frequent read-alouds.

At the beginning of her second grade year, she met Heidi by Johanna Spyri. My Mouse has always identified with characters in literature...and she often tells me how she is feeling by recollecting situations in the various stories we have read. Heidi's world is opened up to her when she learns to read. And my daughter suddenly found something she had not fully grasped before. Suddenly, she began reading every chance she got. She read to her baby sister. She read to her brother. She read to her dolls. Sure, they were the easiest books she could find. Books she read back in kindergarten. But she was reading. And it was because she wanted to.

Then, she fell in love with Misty of Chincoteague. We listened to the audio book several times and she had entire passages memorized. When she noticed it in the library, she checked it out and determined to read it. Misty is not an easy book and is really more at her instructional level than what she should be tackling independently. But she has heard the story enough to aid her comprehension and help her with difficult words.

After an hour of working through it, she paused and looked at me. "Mommy, I love reading. I just want to read and read. Can we just read today?"

My heart soared. Perhaps, my daughter will spend the rest of her life with a book before her nose or at least within her grasp, just as her mother has done.

photo credits:
clipart, Heidi, ponies

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