A while ago, when the kids were getting into bed, Caroline noticed the red Bob books lying the shelf. I had purchased them at the VAHomeschoolers Convention a couple of weeks ago but she wasn’t interested then. The books sat on the kids’ desk downstairs for several days, and then one day Caroline started carrying them around. That night she brought them to bed, though I don’t remember whether she tried reading them. I think I insisted on having the lights out and everyone quiet while I read Anne of Avonlea to Rhiannon and rocked Ian to sleep. The next morning I found the books and put them on Ian’s bedroom shelf.
Tonight, when Caroline again chose to sleep in the bunk bed in Ian’s room, she saw the books and asked me to get her a book light so she could read them. I was only going to be rocking Ian to sleep this time, not reading aloud, because Rhiannon was in her own room at the time. I somewhat begrudgingly got the book light. I’m always begrudging of requests at night when I just want everyone to get to sleep. But I have been waiting for Caroline to show interest in reading and I generally find requests to read or write or do math problems much easier to tolerate at midnight than just one more level on the computer game or just a few more minutes of pretending. I know it’s not fair, but it is what it is.
I have offered to help Caroline read a few times over the last year, with various materials, but until tonight she has only been mildly interested and only very briefly. She would read a few words then refuse to do more. She must have known I want to see her read, because she commented on that when I balked at getting the booklight tonight. “Then you can see me read,” she said. How could I pass that up? And I knew I had to not turn it into a lesson, but just enjoy whatever she wanted to do. I’m glad I was able to do this. This night turned into a surprise treat.
So I settled into the rocking chair with Ian and the truck he was hugging, and we rocked, and Caroline began to read. The books were about Mat and a cat and hat, and she read them slowly but without much difficulty. I knew she could read the words, but she hadn’t yet read that much, and I was impressed. This was the first time she really read a whole book. As Ian fell asleep near the end of the third Bob book, I mentioned that we have many more easy readers downstairs. I didn’t intend for her to search for them tonight, but she was enthusiastic, and I didn’t want to shut that down.
Fortunately, a few months ago I had begun pulling out some of those easy readers that had been mixed in with everything else in our home library, so there was a stack easy to find on one shelf. After I put Ian down, I helped Caroline carry the books upstairs, and we moved her blankets and pillows back to her room so we wouldn’t disturb Ian.
The next books she chose to read were Peg The Hen and Mox the Fox from the Starfall website. When the website was new many years ago they offered free printed versions of their books. Rhiannon learned how to read with them, and fortunately I kept them in good shape so Caroline can use them now. These stories are much better than many easy readers, with actual plots. Peg the Hen has an adventure: the jet goes fast and gets caught in rain and a web.
It’s remarkable how, when kids are ready and haven’t been pushed, they will persevere through hard work with determination and no grumbling. Caroline read those two Starfall books painstakingly slowly, but was cheerful and determined the whole way through. This was so, even when Rhiannon joined us and interrupted too quickly sometimes to give unwanted help or lessons. Rhiannon said she was amazed at how hard it could be to read, now that she’s such an expert. LOL Caroline covered Rhiannon’s mouth and told her several times not to help. But that was said with humor as this was a joyful reading session. Caroline laughed at her mistakes, like reading Pob instead of Bob, and I shushed the girls many times because they were giggling too noisily for midnight.
After she accomplished those two books I suggested Caroline might read them to her dad, who was still awake reading in bed. So she read them again for him, more quickly this time. We clapped quietly, so we wouldn’t wake Ian, but you could feel the excitement and joy in the room. I would have liked to have gone to bed then, but Caroline hadn’t had enough yet. So I told her “just one or maybe two more books.” I’m very excited that she has fully stepped into the world of reading, but I am also trying to keep our bedtime from passing midnight.
The next book she chose was one of the boring Scholastic easy readers. Every page followed the pattern: “I see ____. Hello! Hello!” After a couple of pages, Caroline caught on and assumed the voice of someone who knows something is stupid, but she read the whole book. I had to let her read one more after that! She chose one of our Clifford easy readers. Not the original Clifford books, but a set of easy readers (from Scholastic too, actually) that I bought when Rhiannon was learning to read and was a fan of that show. They are written so they emphasize word patterns and this one, Clifford and The Bees, focused on words with long e, spelled ee. Caroline had read about half the book when I suggested we move to Rhiannon’s bigger bed, because Rhiannon was falling asleep squeezed next to Caroline in Caroline’s twin bed.
She begged to bring another book with her too, and I said, okay, as long as she read it in a whisper voice to herself. I would sit nearby on the floor with my laptop. As I typed the beginning of this entry, Caroline interrupted a few times to ask me to remind her of a letter sound or about a sight word, and then the book light went dark and the only sound was my typing.