reading · slice of life

I Wish You More

Amy Krouse Rosenthal is a fantastic children’s picture book author. We’ve come to love many of her books, especially I Wish You More, in our house. (In case you missed Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s recent Modern Love essay in The New York Times, then you’ll want to read it now before you read the rest of this post. In fact, you should click on the link NOW because I don’t want to be the one to deliver bad news to you if you’re a fellow AKR fan. Warning: Have tissues nearby when you read her essay.)

In an effort to pay tribute to Rosenthal before cancer takes her from this Earth, Chronicle Books is encouraging their patrons to share what we wish for those we care for in the spirit of Rosenthal’s picture book (I Wish You More).

As soon as I finished the Chronicle Books piece, I rushed to my computer and printed the I WISH YOU MORE card. I knew exactly who I wanted to give it to and the message I wanted to send. However, it took me awhile to find the right words.

For those who don’t know, my daughter was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech, or CAS, when she was 27 months old. In the almost four years since her diagnosis, she has learned to speak beautifully. While there are times when she still struggles to get her words out, those instances are fewer than they were in the past.

What you may not know is that 30-40% of kids who are diagnosed with CAS are later diagnosed with language-based learning disabilities. While I’ve been told a formal diagnosis of Dyslexia is usually not made second-grade (because one needs to see a child is two years behind grade-level), there are tests that can often show the writing is on the wall for having a language-based learning disability.

Unfortunately, the writing is on the wall for my kiddo. As a mother and a literacy specialist, it makes me sad. (It makes me lots of other things too, but I’m going with sad this morning.)

Today, my kiddo begins working with two new people. One is a school-based reading specialist who will pick her up with one other peer to provide assistance with things like rhyming. The other person is a private reading tutor we’ve hired to work with our daughter. She’ll be using the Orton-Gillingham sequence with her. It is our hope that with early support, we’ll be able to avoid a Dyslexia diagnosis once she’s in second grade.

Last night, before I retired to my bedroom, I left the little lady a card on her placemat. I made sure I was downstairs when she sat down for breakfast. (My husband usually gives her breakfast.) I asked her if she knew what it said. She read the first three words, but got stuck on the fourth word: wish. Rather than frustrate her by asking her to use her strategies to figure out the word wish, I read the card to her. Despite the lump in my throat, I held back tears and explained what my words meant.

I told her I know reading is hard for her.

I told her new people would be working with her today.

I told her she’d be missing class — twice — to work with these new people. (She balked and I gently reminded it will help her.)

I told her these people would help her learn new strategies to figure out tricky words, like wish, so she could be a more confident reader.

I told her she would learn how to become a brave reader.

I told her I’d be here to help at home.

After we finished our talk, she ate breakfast. I asked her if she wanted me to put the card in her backpack. She said yes.

Later, when I buckled her into her seat to go to school, I asked her, “What are you going to do with the card?” I figured she’d tell me she’d keep it in her backpack.

“I’m going to put it in my cubby,” she replied.

I smiled. I hope she looks at it when she gets frustrated. I hope she looks at it when she feels like it’s hard. I hope she looks at it and remembers to try things even when she’s afraid to say the wrong thing.

As a person who is trained to work with young readers and writers, it’s hard to step aside to let someone else help my kid. However, as my daughter’s developmental pediatrician told me, I’ve already done so much. If I do any more to help my daughter, I risk ruining our parent-child relationship. And I don’t want that. Therefore, today I am taking a step back and letting other people help her move forward. As a result, I’m wishing myself the courage to let go and see where this takes us.

UPDATED at 12:30 p.m.: About an hour after I hit publish on this post, I learned of Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s passing.

Head over to https://twowritingteachers.org for more slice of life stories.
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54 thoughts on “I Wish You More

  1. You could not be providing her a better start to stave off future difficulties. Some of my best students (my brother and my dad) were diagnosed with dyslexia. One of my students shared that he could read Hebrew just fine (because of the right to left directionality). While he needed tutoring early on, he was headed to AP English in senior year. I’m sure he is living a wonderful life, thanks to his parents’ early intervention.

  2. Yours was the first I heard of Amy’s passing. So devastating. She didn’t have weeks. Very touched by your whole post. Your daughter is so fortunate to have you supporting and loving her. All the best to you both.

  3. I know I say this all the time, but I am so glad Isabelle has you for her mom. And while I’ve never met her, I have watched clips and read your posts and her progress has been amazing and exciting Stacey. This post is so very touching and I’m terribly sad that the world has lost such a clever and insightful person with Amy’s passing.

  4. Tears. Just…tears. When I was a kid, my mom would put notes in my lunch box. More than thirty years later, I remember those notes and I remember how special I felt. This moment will stay with Isabelle. She will carry it in her heart forever.

    1. I love that she did that for you, Michelle. I did that for Isabelle throughout preschool. She gets lunch at school now so I stopped. However, I still pack her snacks so maybe I’ll start putting them in her snack bag.

  5. This is a special book in our house as well. I shared it with my former school when I left two years ago and also as a birthday gift for my daughter’s birthday. Many of Amy’s books have helped us to mark special occasions, as her words have often been able to capture so many of my own feelings for my children. You captured your feelings beautifully all on your own in this post, while paying tribute to an amazing woman.

  6. I love your wish for Isabelle. It’s such a heartfelt, honest wish. 🙂

    I am so saddened by the loss of Amy, too. She is such an amazing author, and the message in her books is always relevant and what kids these days need. This is such a huge loss!

  7. I’ve thought about Amy and read the books I have of hers on this day. I agree with your pediatrician. You need to just love books with Isabelle, and that will be a wonderful thing, why Amy wrote those books, for children, and all the rest of us, to smile and love each page. What a wonderful thing you did with the card, Stacey.

    1. She’s discouraged, Linda. As you can imagine, it is heartbreaking. I took her to meet Lauren Castillo a few weeks ago at her studio. Lauren offered her a picture book to read and I heard Isabelle mutter that she couldn’t read it. We reminded her that she could read the pictures. I’ve reminded her of that every day since.
      We will be snowed-in today. Mission #1: Read to my child. If she wants to read to me, then that’s fine. But we’ll read together (with a heavy focus on the love of a good book).

  8. Now that others have stepped in to help her, I’d take advantage of that and just hug her and love her to death. She needs to know how much she’s loved without having to perform for anyone. Try to relax a bit and enjoy her more. I feel for you both.

  9. So hard for your little one. My husband has dyslexia and he talks often of the struggles in his childhood. At the other end of it all, he is a huge reading advocate and attends every literacy conference I go to with me. He knows how much books matter. Love to your little girl.

  10. My heart is touched by your bravery and wisdom. Isabelle will one day own “wish” and lots of other words because you are her mom. I wish you both more of all you are wishing for.

  11. I love AKRosenthal’s books, and I WISH YOU MORE is my go to graduation/babyshower/end of PD book. Such a special book. Like you, I was hugely saddened to hear of her illness, and then death.

    I’ve been a reading interventionist for 20 years. Isabelle will be just fine. Your job, as a mom, is to help her equate reading with joy and love and laughter and comfort. You do that for her every day. She will be fine.

  12. I am sorry you have had to face this lesson as a parent so early on… but it is one we all face at some point. She will be stronger, more creative, more empathic and more resilient for it. This is her path, her journey and from everything I have learned of her in the past years — it is going to be a great trip! If you ever want to talk with Tammy – she has been through this as a mom and would be happy to connect.
    Clare

    1. I was just thinking about reaching out to Tammy the other day. I need to get through the next week or so (I start back to teaching grad school on 3/20.) and then I will shoot her an email. She always has wise words for me on matters like this. Thanks for the reminder, Clare.

  13. I’m still in shock over Amy’s death. It warms my heart that a part of her lives on in little lessons and wishes like this one in homes all across the world. Isabelle will have such incredible love and support, I know that will enable her to develop a growth mindset as well as empathy for others. Beautiful post, this morning.

    1. I’m constantly trying to instill the growth mindset in her by getting her to use the word YET. (I’d imagine it must be hard for her to stay positive when her classmates are learning to read and she’s struggling.) That said, I’ll keep pushing her to have that growth mindset. We know how crucial it is!

  14. Tears and hugs on many levels as I read your post. As a long-term literacy specialist, I’ve worked with hundreds of your readers and am convinced that early intervention with O-G is the best way to assure students with language based “stuff” break through the code and learn to enjoy the magic of reading. I’ll pray you find/have the most competent, most compassionate, and most motivating teachers for your child.
    I too wrote a post based on Amy’s book I Wish You More late last night. I wasn’t sure I could share it this morning without a rewrite – so on this snow day morning, I decided to read some posts before I reconsidered today’s post…..
    Amy Rosenthal’s words and power to impact lives will live on, but we will all miss what should have been her next chapter.
    I Wish You More words for Isabella, more strength than you ever knew you had, more hope for the future than statistics.

    1. Thank you for your wish, and for your wise words, Anita. It’s nice to have the reassurance that O-G is the right way to go. (We were given Wilson as an option, but I felt like O-G was the best choice.)

  15. Such a beautiful post, Stacey. You have provided so much support to Isabella. You are both strong role models for so many. Thank you. (I felt the need to honor Amy in my post today, too.)

  16. This is such a beautiful, wise post – it brought tears to my eyes. I was deeply saddened when I learned yesterday that a bright light in our universe had been extinguished. Amy’s story is so powerful – and I read the open letter she wrote in the New York Times because you had shared your thoughts on facebook. I learn so much from you – thank you!

    You are such a great parent and a very knowledgeable educator, and you have already given Isabelle so much. She is ready for these new adventures! I love the card you wrote for her and the fact that you have already taught her that reading and writing are joyful! Isabelle is ready! I wish you and Isabelle wonderful adventures and surprises, and a world colored by faith, love, hope, and happy endings.

  17. A beautiful post, Stacey. I read your post after I learned of Amy’s death and had spent some time watching her TED talk and reading her obituary in the Times. One thing that strikes me is to ensure that your daughter and her teachers recognize the importance of audio texts. They too lead to comprehension. Sometimes we only think of reading as eyes on the page. This is a limited view. I found that organizing a collection of guided reading books that are arranged by sight word introduction (forms a staircase of learning) has had amazing results in schools where I consult for K and 1.

    I wish you and your daughter the best.

  18. My son, who is now 31, had such a difficult time reading. He had a language processing problem which coupled with chronic ear infections made acquiring language skills so hard. He hated reading. I use to tease him that it was like putting a stake through my heart. It is so hard to separate the parent self from the teacher self. I just wanted to be able to “fix” things for him, so he could feel more confident.

    It took a long time with lots of ups and downs. He never became a good standardized test taker, but he became a great learner. He graduated college with honors and is now a music teacher.

    Your daughter’s future will be whatever she wants it to be!

  19. Thank you for sharing this personal and touching story. Your daughter is so lucky to have you, in her corner and by her side. I’ve never read this book and am reading about this author everywhere. I think I’m just going right to Amazon and purchase it. I already know I’ll love it!

  20. I wish you more ups than downs. I wish you more high fives than frowns. You are an awesome mom, and I know you will keep Isabelle’s spirits up as she works her way through school and life.

    Amy was and remains an inspiring person. Sad day for so many.

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