Last night we went to bed as usual with her choice of book for me to read to her. On this occasion it happened to be this one:
- which contains lengthy narrative on the left pages and a more concise version on the right, in larger font, for the child to read. I explained this system to Lyddie last night and she said she wanted to read the book that way, together with me. So I would read the left pages and she would read the right ones.
I see that we've done this before with Puddle Lane books but this time she was quite fluent except for the word 'vanished', over which she didn't struggle for long. It's a while since we've done them though and she must have forgotten how they work.
I've absolutely loved sharing this 'learning to read' process with her. It's been a pleasure from start to finish. We've used Letterland phonics (by accident, since someone put a machine and some books in her hands about 18 months ago) combined with a lot of story reading. Also, reading is a very prevalent activity in this house. Most of us do it a lot and we frequently discuss, share and critique our reading, so the pay-off of learning the skill has been clearly modelled for her and supplied her with the motivation to want to master it.
At night I often go to bed with a book or newspaper: she's wanted to read it with me and I've abandoned my relaxed reading-to-myself session for a more concentrated helping-Lyddie-read session often at 9, 10, 11pm after the baby fell asleep so that we could devote ourselves 100% to the task. These sessions were never planned, but I suppose the prospect of one's adult being lost in their own reading and therefore not really attending to you is much less appealing than asking to join in and learning the rules of the game.
So, she learned the letter sounds very early on and she knows how to blend them into words. But for all the method purists out there, I have to say that she relies heavily on memory too and only falls back on the phonics when she doesn't recognise the word on sight. So for example, last night she glanced at 'there' and thought it said 'the'. When 'the' didn't work in context, she used her knowledge of phonics and the 'magic e' to work out what it did say. Only when she's stuck does she ask me to blend the sounds for her and I always wait until she asks and then comply with her request without question: it has been very important for her to retain control of the process.
When she successfully reads a sentence without problems we both laugh out loud for the sheer pleasure of her achievement. She concentrates so hard and is delighted when she gets it right. I think she's close to the day when she'll start to just pick up books and read them to herself now - something we're both looking forward to.