Today is Read Across America Day in honor of the birthday of Dr. Seuss.
I’m celebrating because the first-grader I’ve been tutoring isn’t a slow reader any more. In his second great leap forward — in November, he suddenly acquired the ability to sound out words — he doubled his reading speed. When the text repeated, he didn’t have to sound out every word laboriously a second, third or fourth time. He just zipped along.
The tutoring program tells us volunteers to praise the children, even giving us a full page of positive things to say. “You’re a super star!” “You’re fantastic!” I’m not capable of doing this and this kid is too sharp to buy it. Mostly, I say “good” when he struggles through a word. And when we discuss the story, I treat him as an intelligent conversant, which he is. This time, I told him how much he’d improved in speed and fluency, suggesting that his practice had paid off. Pleased, he said “thank you.”
If this boy continues to improve, he’ll move beyond the easy readers, which he finds “boring” to books he might enjoy. (I’m getting sick of Oliver the Pig myself.) He likes “real” things, but the teacher says she has no science books at his level. Now I have faith that he’ll get there.