Wednesday, June 8, 2011

He's a Reader

Before Evan was born, I had decided that no matter what that X chromosome looked liked (we didn't know until a year old), this child would be a reader.  I wanted him to want to read.  
Some of the "tools" we've used to help accomplish this:
This has been a favorite toy for a few years.  When he went through what seemed like a never ending stage of waking up at night, he had access to this--the letters light up.  Sometimes he used it, sometimes he didn't.  It's a great one!
image from amazon.com

Here's another good one; it's at grandma's house right now.  He likes the first one a little better (and so do I), but it's still a good one.

These letters were VERY popular with him for a while.  We started with him only having access to a few at a time at first, because if not, it was overwhelming and they would all get thrown on the floor. Now that we have two, he'll put matching letters in at the same time to hear the jingle simultaneously.  Or sometimes, he staggers the placement of the same letters...it sounds pretty cool, too.
And I can't leave out Starfall.com. 
 I think we started using that when he was two?  Maybe sooner.  He would sit on my lap, and I would click on the letters.  He soon started pointing to what he wanted to hear.  And then as he was able to start verbalizing letters, he would say the letter.   It would be me who would have to say, "All done," because I'm not sure how long we would be on the computer if I had waited for him to say it.  
And now there's the iPad.  We have several stories on there. With many of them, the words highlight as they're being read.  He can also touch the word and have it repeated as many times as he wants, which he loves to do.  
BUT,
this all started with the best reading program out there:
A book.

I started reading to him the day I brought him home from the hospital.
I read to him, a lot.  Some days, especially on weekends and in the summer, it probably adds up to hours of reading.  When my mom watched him, I asked her to read to him.  He's always had full access to books.  Granted, giving full access to books meant he often had books...all over the floor in his bedroom.    And yes, he went through a stage of tearing the pages, sometimes one, sometimes multiple, sometimes on purpose, sometimes not.  This behavior most certainly wasn't encouraged; he would get a stern talking to when this would happen. 
And then if it was salvageable, I would get out the clear packing tape.  This tape was also used for the corners of the pages.  He had/has this thing about gently biting his thumb while having a corner of the page in/near his mouth while reading.  I found that this tape came in handy for preventative measures, too, for some of his favorites; I just taped the edges of every page!  Some of the favorites, like the animal babies series I got for him when he was 6 months old, ended up having to be replaced.
We have books...everywhere. He brings books with him when we go places.  When we read, I point to the words.  We point to the pictures and talk about them.  I ask questions about the book.  Does he answer?  Sometimes, sometimes no.  But is he thinking about the questions?  Yes.  Is he learning to think about what he's reading?  Yes. 
And now at five years old, I'm starting to see the results.  He   has many words memorized.  Animal ones were the first, but now he's also started to recognize other words, like "but;" he knows the word "but." He knows the word "the." I haven't quizzed him on what words he does and doesn't know; they're are others.  Those two just stand out at this moment.
He's started to attend to the first letter.  I'll sometimes stop and ask him what the word is.  He'll sometimes get the first sound or even say (or attempt to say) a word that starts with that sound.  Yesterday, we were looking at one of his animal books...encyclopedia type...and there was a picture of some colorful, different kind of vulture.  He looked at the paragraph next to it, and he found a word a couple of sentences in, "perfect."  He pointed to it and said "parrot."  
He points to the words when he "reads."  When I read to him, he often asks me to point to the words--if I start reading and I'm not pointing, he'll start running his finger under the words and look at me.
And I'm loving this!
So I'm off to read some books, because the answer to the question, "Do you want Mommy to read to you?" is almost never "no."
His grandpa would be proud!

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