By Diane Ako
My three year old just read her first words. I was stunned and amazed. I shouldn't be, since we've all been working on it for months. But change comes slowly, and I wasn't holding my breath for the exact day that she would read something.
So many big events in life are wrapped in small, nonchalant moments. Olivia and I were sitting at the kitchen table having breakfast, and there was an empty plastic clamshell on the table waiting to be taken outside to the recycling bin. "What was in here, Mommy?" she asked.
I couldn't remember. "The blueberries Mommy ate this morning," I answered.
She looked at the box and said, "This says tomatoes."
I stopped mid-chew and looked at her. "What did you say?"
"This says 'tomatoes,'" she responded.
"How do you know that?" I asked, expecting her to say there was a picture of a red tomato on the label.
"Because it says t-t-t-t-tomato," Olivia sounded out. "It does not say b-b-b-blueberry." I ran over and hugged her.
It's probably a combination of preschool, parents, grandparents, and babysitter reading to her and helping her write letters, and repeated viewings of The Letter Factory DVD. If you're not familiar, the cartoon teaches that "every letter makes a sound" and then goes into each sound.
I have tried to replicate that moment, but she will not be forced. When we ask her what this or that word says, she just gets all goofy, so we gave up. It'll happen again when she's ready.
But back to that moment at the table. I expressed hearty praise and immediately called my husband and parents to share the news. The funny thing is, despite reading the label for herself, she still didn't make the connection on how to answer her own question.
"So," she persevered. "What was in this box?"
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