January 21st 2013
Suddenly Lily is reading and Katie’s trying her best to do the same. Mammy came to visit for a few days after Christmas and, amongst the many presents she brought was a set of 30 Oxford Reading Tree books. The girls love them. All the books have the same set of basic characters (including a lively dog) and each book a little more advanced than the one preceding it. Once the girls discovered that they are in possession of a ‘reading finger’, following the words on the page has suddenly become second nature. It’s been incredible to watch this leap of understanding that each word is independent of those around it, and is separated from the word before it and after it by a space, but when you put them all together they tell you something. I’ve discovered that Lily has two reading voices. One is low and quiet, used to read the words that she’s not sure of, or that she’s guessing based on the picture and the context. The other, loud and clear and accompanied by a smug smile, is used to read the words that she knows, and that she can recognise out of context.
Now she wants to read everything, and that ‘reading finger’ is pointing at words in her books, our books, the newspaper, and trying to decipher it all. Of course none of this happened out of the blue. Apart from the reading we’ve done with them almost since the day they were born, we’ve been playing with the alphabet and with making words for a long time now. We have a wooden alphabet that we arrange on the floor, and a set of ‘Alphablocks’ that came with a CBeebies magazine about six months ago have proven invaluable. We can spend ages on the floor rearranging the letters and sounds to make words – real and nonsense. It seems to me that nonsense words, made of consonants and no vowels, are perfectly good too, because they teach the girls that letters are building blocks and you can say all sorts of crazy things when you put those building blocks together. And it teaches them that written words can be very very funny!
It’s delightful to see such enthusiasm and to see my girls making their first faltering unsteady steps into what I hope will be lifelong passion for the written word.