For the past several weeks, Kendall has been bringing home a series of two-page "stories" from school. They have repetitive phrases like "I am little" or "My cat is..." Essentially, it's teaching her to recognize words to ease into reading. When Emily did it, her class called them "sight words."
It's working, because last night Kendall read me a book for the first time.
She'd picked out a little "Step Into Reading" book featuring the Disney princesses at the library, and she asked me to read it to her. I suggested instead that she try to read it to me.
We sat on the couch going over each page. It was another system of repetitive phrases centered around "What is a princess?" and "A princess is..." I tried to provide as little help as possible, only giving her more difficult words like "through." The rest she either recognized or we sounded out together. After we finished, she was quite proud of her accomplishment, and she wanted to practice it again.
The second time around, it was clear that she'd memorized some passages, but I'd expected that. I was more impressed that she needed much less help in sounding out words this time.
It was also interesting to notice which words she recognized and which words she read. Almost every time she came to the word "is," she said "the" instead. I could tell it was a word she recognized, and her brain processed it as "this is a small word I know" instead of reading each sound. Then for the princesses names, she'd read the first letter or two and make the intuitive leap to "Cinderella" or "Jasmine," since she could see the princess pictured on the page.
After dinner, Kendall read the book again for Misty, and her reading was smoother still. Misty was, of course, proud, but not so much as Kendall, I think.
This morning, I heard Kendall downstairs reading the book again to Emily. Then the two of them got out a couple other "Step Into Reading" books and started working on them together. Not just reading, but getting along -- two things that make me a happy father.