Reading at Speed January 07, 2016


During our recent trip to Greece, I experienced a moment of pure parenting pride. Out of nowhere, Elena piped up and said “I figured out what that letter means!” Many of the signs in Athens are written in both the Greek and English (or Latin, to be precise) alphabets. Elena has developed a voracious appetite for information, so while we were out and about, especially on the subways, she was constantly scanning the environment, and after a while something clicked. Unfortunately in the intervening time we’ve all forgotten which letter it was; our best guess is either omega or gamma. I gave her a challenge to figure out which Greek letter made the same sound as “l”. I had to give her and Roman (who was also working on the puzzle) a hint, but they figured it out.

Elena’s active reading hasn’t gotten us into too much trouble yet—we don’t generally have things out that we wouldn’t want her to read—but it has been yet another thing to distract our already distractable daughter. Her reading can also be a double-edged sword in other ways: I had just finished reading the first Famous Five book to her at bedtime, and then she got the second one in her Christmas stocking. I was looking forward to reading this new one together, but she read the whole thing at the end of our trip, spending most of the flight home with her nose buried in the book. It was nice to see her so involved and hear her updates about the progress of the story, but now I probably won’t ever know about the crazy adventures of those kids and their dog; I don’t think I would read the book on my own.

Although I’ve been writing about Elena in this post, I have to say a few words about Roman learning to read; he’s progressing nicely. It’s a good check on myself to ponder the realization that when they figure out a Greek letter, I applaud them because it’s also out of the ordinary to me too, but that I get frustrated when Roman struggles with an English word that is just as unfamiliar to him as the Greek was to me. Luckily, Roman hasn’t given me too many occasions to see if I can draw strength and patience from that realization in practice.

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