Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cracking the Code

Watching my daughter learn to read has been both fascinating and mysterious.  Especially since, at least to me, she is doing so in a rather non-linear fashion.  Bored by most beginning readers, perhaps feeling that picture books were babyish, and entranced by the Ramona series as I've written about here, she announced that she was going to read chapter books before she read "regular" (that is, picture) books (interesting, too, that she still considers picture books the norm).  While she has not quite achieved that goal yet, she is closer every day, sometimes reading whole paragraphs of the Ramona books at a time.

I know that there are two parts to reading - comprehension and decoding.  My daughter's ability to comprehend what she is reading (both the plot and individual words - she is quite good at gleaning the meaning of new words from context) definitely exceeds her decoding ability.  But it is her decoding ability - and inability - that I find most intriguing.  She can sight-read more difficult words such as thought and library, while still having to sounding out simple words like park.  A friend says one day she will just "crack the code."  Has that been your experience or was it a more gradual process?

This post was inspired by the I Can Read Celebration currently being hosted by Playing by the Book and her post about putting yourself in the shoes of a child learning to read.


  1. My oldest kid's path to reading was more a discontinuity then a linear path. He spent three years at "almost reading," sustained a love of stories with a complete lack of interest in reading himself, cheerfully went through "Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Lessons" and then fell in love with an (adult) SF series that I liked and proceeded read it, emerging at age almost-eight with an addictive reading habit such that I spend more effort restricting his reading time than encouraging it.

    Basically he went from Ricky Ricotta to eight grade level texts in a day. I'm still not convinced he even notices the insides of words; he may still recognize words by shape. His spelling would support that.
    Does that help?

  2. @Beth: I can imagine my daughter having a progression similar to your son's. She LOVES it when I read to her but when I asked her the other day what she likes about reading she said, and I quote, "I DON'T like it when you tell me to read." But when she thinks we're not looking she'll pick up a book and try to read it.

  3. My son learnt to read and I didn't know! Great mum/great teacher! One day my arms were tired and I asked him to hold the book and he started to read to me quite matter-of-factly. "When did you learn to do that?" I asked. "Why didn't you tell me?" But you always hold the book" was his reply.