For years, I’ve taught remedial reading. I’ve seen teenagers go from barely reading, to reading at a very functional level. I’ve helped them to have opportunities in their lives that they otherwise wouldn’t have have; I’ve seen them become truly literate. It’s awe-inspiring.
But not as awe-inspiring as being there when someone reads their first word.
It was “cat.” Rob wrote it on Beanie’s Magna-doodle. She looked at the letters, said each sound, then said, “Cat!” She did the same with the word “dog.” She sounded out, blended, and constructed meaning. That is reading, in every sense of the word.
She’s not reading books, but she’s reciting pattern books, pointing to each word on the page. This isn’t the end of the journey, it’s the first step. The first step toward something amazing.
Literacy is what separates us humans from the animals. It’s what gives us the freedom to become and achieve whatever we can dream of. It’s what allows us to explore our own world and learn about worlds beyond the bounds of our imagination.
Last night was as momentous of the day she said her first word, took her first step.
Oh, the places you’ll go, my daughter!
See also, Cultivating a Love of Learning: Read On!