I’m thankful I have a reading specialist (aka: my mother-in-law, Linda) on-call 24/7. Linda is my go-to person when I either have a literacy-related question to which I don’t know the answer or need to confirm my thinking about something. I called her right about an hour after I got home today since I wasn’t sure if I was thinking clearly about something Isabelle was doing as a reader. I thought, surely I’m suffering from rose-colored glasses mommy syndrome! So, I dialed Linda on the cell phone.
As soon as Linda picked up I said, “Hi there. Something just happened with Isabelle regarding her reading life and I need to know if what I’m thinking is happening is actually happening. Do you have a minute?”
“Sure,” she said skeptically.
“It’s a good thing,” I reassured her.
“Oh, good!” I could hear the twinge of panic melt from her voice.
I began recounting my tale:
- Most of the sticky notes from Isabelle’s Mitzvah Wall (that she could reach) were on the floor when I got home. I made her pick them up.
- She started asking me what each one said.
- After telling her what a few said I asked her what she thought they said. She was able to accurately describe one – three key words from the sticky note.
- I was shocked. WAS SHE READING?!??!
- We tried a few more. She knew the difference between the sticky note with the horrendous car drawings (one was that she didn’t lock the door with her foot when I came to get her and the other was that she reminded me to go to Judy, the dry cleaner). OMG! It was as if she was reading.
- I went to the other room to retrieve my phone. I HAD to document this!
- I recorded her accurately stating what five of the final seven sticky notes on the floor said. (TAKE A LISTEN TO THE SOUNDCLOUD BELOW.)
- Was it the poorly drawn stick figures I drew that was helping her or was she able to decode a few of the words I wrote on each one?
When I finished talking, Linda said, “I’m not surprised. She’s putting it all together.”
Was it really possible? Or were we both wearing rose-colored glasses because it was Isabelle doing this?
After a few more minutes, Linda was confident Isabelle was using meaning, structural, and visual clues to make meaning out of the sticky notes. While no one can really say whether she’s reading the pictures, recognizing some of the words, or recalling things from memory, the bottom line is that she’s putting it all together to make meaning. (And, what my mother-in-law loved was that Isabelle wanted to know what each one said. That curiosity is something I take for granted.)
When I started the Mitzvah Wall last month, I hoped it would encourage Isabelle to do more helpful things. Who knew it would be the springboard to helping with her emerging reading skills?