Thursday, February 4, 2010

23 Sentences, and Everything Changes

Yesterday afternoon, Ben came down from his nap cheerful, calm. He held a Level 1 Reader in his hands and asked, as I was finishing up a phone call, if he could read it to me. He has never asked this before. I couldn't have been happier to oblige him.

I got off the phone after many eager insistings on his part, and we sat together on the couch in the family room. The house was quiet and still, as Abby still snoozed in her crib. The light was warm from the afternoon sun. I propped my legs on the ottoman, Ben curled his legs under him, and he began.

The sentences were simple and phonetic: "Wag has a pal--Kitcat. Kitcat ran to a mat..."

He sounded out each word, said it again after he decoded the letters, moved on to the next word, and proceeded to the end of the sentence. When he reached the end, he reread the entire sentence aloud to comprehend its meaning. And then he beamed. I smiled and cheered. He was proud. I was proud. And he continued to the next sentence. As he went on, he recognized more quickly repeated word endings, like "-at" in "mat," "cat," and "sat." He didn't have to sound out every one.

There were times he was halting and other times he was fluid, but he had command of the process, and I could feel his confidence rising with each success, could see a world opening up to him before my eyes. When we reached the end of the third page and decided it was time to get Abby, who had woken, we both knew he had accomplished something big. Really big. He wanted some quantifiable description of how much he had read, so we counted the periods: 23 sentences he read, and he walked around all afternoon announcing it with excitement.

It was sacred to watch it come together. He's recognized the letters of the alphabet for years, has known their sounds for some time, and has been able and occasionally willing to sound out a word or two or three here or there for nearly a year. He's had all the building blocks without realizing he's had them. But yesterday, the knowledge and skills converged in his concious mind to enable him to read, really read, and my spirit lept for him.

As a child who loved to read, who spent hours and hours in book after book, who got lost in other places and times and people and events, who often finished a book a different person than I began, who preferred words to almost anything else, I revel in this feat. Because now, it is only a matter of time before he discovers he holds the world in his little boy fingertips. A universe of meaning is about to open up for him as he begins to look at the letters that surround him everyday with new meaning.

Don't worry, my expectations are in check. There's no pressure here. It's just that sitting on the couch with him yesterday felt like ushering him into another dimension. I may as well have held his hand and walked him to the moon.

23 precious is a whole new world.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love comments!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin