It’s hard for me to remember the days when I was learning to read. It’s been nearly thirty years since those times. I think my lack of memory is compounded by my avid reading. A case of reading so much over the years that it’s hard to remember where I began.
All of that probably explains why I’ve been so fascinated with my son’s progress as he’s been learning to read over the last year or so. We’ve progressed from learning the letters to their sounds to building words. Now, he’s starting to read simple books on his own. It is a fascinating thing to watch. The connections he makes in his mind. The memorization of certain words.
Over the last couple of months he’s attempted reading signs, notes from school, words on packaging. You know, the pragmatic reason to read.
But, we’re also reading chapter books with him and we’ve made it a few books into the Magic Tree House series. Each night we open the pages and enter into a new world and he loves it. When we read the book about pyramids, he wanted me to find out more information about ancient Egypt. The current book about ancient man has us looking up pictures of prehistoric cave bears to see just how big they really were.
He is learning the lesson that, I hope, will make him a lifetime reader. The magic for me, though, is watching a new reader learn this magical trick of stepping outside yourself to learn about other people, other times and other cultures. You also learn that you aren’t as different as you think.
It reminds me of a James Baldwin quote I read once:
“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me the most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.”
That may be a little heavy for a six year-old, but it is a lesson he’s just beginning to learn. I’m excited to see his journey as a new reader and to watch him mature.