Friday, December 14, 2007

No Baby Step

Taking baby steps was never J's thing - not even when she was a baby. So she went straight to standing up and walking soon after she learned to sit, the crawling phase just never happened. Needless to say, even before she could balance herself on her feet she tried to dash instead of walk. It was funny to see her grow frustrated with herself each time she stumbled.

She'd get really mad at anyone who laughed at her which made us want to laugh even more. Yet getting her to take one step at a time was an exercise in futility. J had no patience for any of that, she had to do things her way. Not a lot has changed since then. She's not a baby anymore and she does not believe in taking baby steps any more than she did at six months old.

Even before she had completed reading her second Dr. Seuss book, J was bent on reading a chapter book like the big kids did. I tried to tell her why that may not be a good idea but The Green Eggs and Ham was just not cutting it. J informed me that it was not a "real" chapter book. The first "real" chapter book she picked to read was
Caitlin's Holiday. J had just started in first grade at the time and struggled with the big words and there were plenty of them. The rule about no more than five new words per page to determine reading level was clearly not being applied but she couldn't care less.

At the end of chapter one, she was barely able to comprehend what she had read till then. But there would be returning to junior readers to develop her reading skills. So we persevered with Caitlin and her doll Holiday to the bitter end. Every minute, J would ask me to help her with yet another big word. By the time we were done, J had figured the story line out, she had her most and least favorite character and definitely ready for the next book which was
Lucky In Left Field.

Compared to the first one, this was a breeze. She had just managed to stand steady on her feet and true to form she was ready to run now. Her third book is
The Amazing Days of Abby Hayes - Reach for the Stars. All the gains from the first two books were wiped away swiftly right on page one. This is a book several years older than her. She set to work interrupting her reading with innumerable "What does this say ?"

At page 86 where she is right now reading to me, J has finally found her groove. She is following the story line, getting the humor and relating to the characters a little bit. Back before J had started to read I would often tell her that not knowing to read is like being a bird in a cage, reading at your own grade level like a bird in an zoo but reading well above grade level is like a free bird flying free in the endless sky. The intent was to get her excited about reading. I would tell her about how reading and comprehending would bring everything there was to know in the world within reach and how powerful she would feel. I wonder now if that was the right message to reinforce with a kid like J.

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