It began in first grade. My daughter was averse to reading. She didn’t get phonics. All too often, the word saw looked just like was. She feared being called on to read. Her sanctuary was outside, where patterns made sense and nothing was ever capitalized. She cajoled seeds to grow and rescued spiders. Her only frustration with nature was the occasional electric storm that kept her indoors.
On the day she was assigned to read twenty pages a week, her anguish matched her anxiety. She spewed, “I’m the stupidest one in first grade.” The intensity of her feelings overwhelmed her. I empathized with the reality of her plight.
“Might we read the required pages aloud together? I’ll read a page and you’ll read the next page,” I asked.
Did I mention she’s good in math? “Can my ten pages and your ten pages add up to the required twenty?”
I acquiesced when she committed to reading together nightly. Even after we satisfied the requirement.
The school librarian took her under her wing and suggested the first Frog and Toad book. Later the magic and lessons of William Steig and Robert Munch fascinated her. I’ve never forgiven the librarian for introducing her to the Goose Bumps books! Gradually my daughter learned to decode, identify the plot, and comprehend the nuisances of the characters and story.
Now, six years later, we still ask each other the same kinds of questions. What do you think will happen next? What would you do if you were that character? How do brave people feel? And we lament together when our favorite books ended… shaking our heads at why that author didn’t write a series.
“Mom, do you think I am more like Charlotte, Hermione or Meg Murry?” My daughter asked after we finished a Harry Potter book.
“You have the intelligence, bravery, and kindness of all of them. I can’t pick one.” I paused. “What resemblances do you see?” I wanted her to voice her strengths, resilience, and cleverness… another ploy of mine.
I admit, I coaxed her into loving reading. And, spending time together every day. And searching online for ways to teach her reading skills. She, however, gets full credit for her working hard and balancing outside fun with indoor learning. And for naming her dog, Ramona, after her favorite character. What I know for sure, is that our reading adventure is exactly what “priceless” refers to in that TV commercial.