I was sitting at the table reading when I noticed Quinten doing the same on the sofa. He was reading the classic Green Eggs and Ham by the inimitable Doctor Seuss, and clearly enjoying himself.
I put down my book and listened. He was doing different voices for the two characters, packing it with feeling. He got some of the words wrong, but I suppressed Professor Daddy, who tries to bring learning into our daily reading.
Learning to read is a shit-ton of work, y'all. If you learned as a school child, you probably don't remember all that work. I sure don't. And if your kids go to a school in which everyone speaks English in every class, and your child doesn't have any sort of learning disabilities, you also may not realize it.
Quinten's school doesn't start teaching the English alphabet until the 3rd grade. They believe that children should be extremely solid in their native alphabet first, and that written language should not be taught until the spoken moves beyond a certain point. I think. Or maybe it has to do with how many baby teeth they have lost. Frankly, Waldorf Education is something of a black box to me, and many of their milestones and process seem arbitrary. Especially this one.
I know for absolute fact that kids can learn two languages at once, both spoken and written, because Quinten reads in English. From time to time I sense hints of dyslexia in the way he reads, but he is doing very well considering that I am his only teacher, and the vast majority of our learning time overlaps with story time at night. On any given night it may not seem like a lot of work, but it adds up. Quinten and I have put in that effort together.
Sometimes he is very much aware of how much work it is, like when I make him read, but he loves it when I read to him, completely unaware that I am teaching him something larger than phonics. I honestly don't know whether I want him to remember how hard this was or not. I so very badly want him to read effortlessly, gliding from line to line across the page, the story blossoming in his mind, exploding, creeping, stalking, dancing, crying, laughing and unfolding in his mind.
I just finished reading The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. It was so very, very good. It was long and complex, with stories and themes nested in each other, and characters that came and went, and occasionally returned, pain and triumph often side by side. It was not an easy read, but it was enjoyable in a way that the easy ones aren't.
I want my kids to be able to read and enjoy books like The Bone Clocks. I'm not even sure when I will know one way or the other that they will.
I did something unorthodox for me in reading The Bone Clocks: I picked it up and started reading it while in the middle of reading another novel. It sounded more interesting than the book I was reading, and it was. It was on my Kindle, so it was more portable than the dead-tree book I was reading. It was clearly not aimed at young adult readers, unlike the book I was reading.
And it was not Stephanie Meyers' Twilight.
Unlike. The book. I was. Ahem. Reading.
Which I finished reading. Yes, the whole thing. And I have a thing or two to say about it, and to ask about it. But not today. Today I just want to say that I read it because Maxine had already read it in Korean, and asked for it in English.
It's sort of a policy of mine to not say no to a child of mine who wants a book, but I wanted to know what I was handing her, so I read it first.
With a little Bone Clock break to wash away the taste of treacle it left in my mouth.
Maxine's not ready for The Bone Clocks yet. It may never be her cup of tea. But she enjoys reading. That's one out of two kids so far. Anyone want to take bets on Quinten not enjoying reading when he's older?
I didn't think so.