While it is exciting to see a child learning to read, it might be the second most challenging phase of parenting that I’ve come across. (Potty training still holds the coveted first place trophy.)
It seems like it takes about three years of listening to r-r-r-r-e-e-e-e-d-d-d. Red! And then f-f-f-f-f-i-i-i-i-i-s-s-s-s-s-h-h-h-h-h oh sh-sh-sh-sh-sh. Fish! B-b-b-b-b-b-b-l-l-l-l-l-l-u-u-u-u-u-e-e-e-e. Blueeee? Blue. F-f-f-f-f-f-i-i-i-i-i-s-s-s-s-s-h-h-h-h. Fish. And those are just the first four words.
And during those three years, I would snuggle next to her, helping her slowly sound out the words, trying to keep my eyes open after a long day and attempt to act interested in the painfully plotless early readers.
There are so many amazing picture books that it is really excruciating to transition to the early readers. I understand why they are written with only 11 different words, letters the size of grapefruit and one sentence on each page. But it is still e-x-c-r-u-c-i-a-t-i-n-g.
We have suffered through nearly every Dr. Suess, countless Sunshine Books, and mainly I want to pull the wings off every fairy in THE FAIRY BOOKS – you know the ones.
But this month it is happening. It is f-i-n-a-l-l-y happening!
“Charlotte’s Web” has rescued us.
She has discovered a book that she wants to read. “Can I just read one more chapter before I go to sleep?” And that she understands. “When I read it, I can hear all the animals talking inside my head using different voices.” And she is curious about the ending. “Do you think the animals will be able to save Wilbur? There are only seven chapters left.”
I absolutely love to read and hope that my children do as well. Growing up during cold, dark Alaska winters, I read mountains of books that were delivered by the mail plane in a box each month from the regional library while my little brother played computer games on our Apple IIe. Guess who majored in English and who majored in engineering?
Reading gives us the opportunity to travel the world, experience different cultures, suffer and celebrate with beloved characters, time travel to anytime and be inspired by action heroes.
Blessings, E.B. White! Thank you for your characters that will forever transport children into the pages of their imagination.
But really, Mr. White, why does Charlotte, the heroine have to die? Cycle of life, I understand, but my daughter is so concerned with Wilber’s imminent near-bacon death threats right now that she is going to be completely blindsided by Charlotte’s passing. I’ll send you the bill for the case of Kleenex I’m expecting to need.
Sorry for the spoiler if you haven’t read it this classic book published in 1952.