I just have to share something that happened last night. My youngest, Lilie, is seven and does not read for fun. She reads well but she only reads with prodding. It has saddened me for quite some time that I don’t “catch her reading,” but I have told myself that if I am just patient and do not hassle her, eventually she will start reading because she wants to.
Most of the family was in the family room, the room with the warm, crackling fireplace, and I was playing a word game assisted by Taylor, AD, Lydia, and Olivia. I heard quiet laughter from across the room, and there sat Lilie by herself in the recliner, laughing at what she was reading in a book on her own (without me having to say, “Find a book to read for a while”). I didn’t say a word to her, but AD and I exchanged smiles.
The book Lilie was reading was a library book that one of her sisters had gotten out of the library a day or two ago, and Tim had even read some of it out loud to us because it really was a funny book. AD and Lydia had read some parts out loud to us as well. (I can’t find the book at the moment to quote you the title. Sorry!) The title isn’t really that important; what I observed reinforced my theory that children will read when they are ready to read, and being ready involves having a vested interest in what is being read.
I could tell Lilie all day how much fun reading is, but until she somehow got sucked into a book herself, all my talking about it meant nothing to her. Last night she experienced, perhaps for the first time in her little life, the true joy of reading. The fire has been lit, and I just bet I will find her reading more and more frequently.
Often I have asked myself, “Why does this child not seem to want to read on her own?” The others all gravitated to reading without my intervention. I have asked my other kids, and I have peppered Tim with the same question. The answer seems to be that because she is the youngest of a bunch, she is entertained by the others. We all read *to* her. She loves to listen to books on tape, and Tim has read all of the Narnia books as well as the Little House books to her and the two other younger girls over that past year or so. Lilie simply hasn’t had the *desire* to entertain herself.
For her, reading was not a readiness issue in the same sense that knowing phonics rules is a readiness issue; it has been a “heart readiness” issue.
Pleasure is the key for unlocking the door into the wide and wonderful world of reading. We read for enjoyment as children, don’t we? Last night my little daughter caught the excitement the other girls had for a certain book, and I suspect that her reading journey has just begun. It’s so fun to watch!
I can’t wait to be able to say, “Lilie, stop reading, turn out your light, and go to sleep!”