I will confess that I have not had much time for reading recently. It breaks my heart to say it, but I have a deadline and many words to write. This means that getting absorbed in a book is not really on the agenda at the moment, as much as I wish it was.
I am still making time to listen to my son read every day though. We read Pratchett in the morning after breakfast and before he goes to school. Then he spends the rest of the day bombarding me with the jokes he has learned from his latest foray into the huge pile of vintage Beanos he is currently working through.
You might imagine that if he is at the point of reading Pratchett, that he doesn’t need me to hear him read any more, but learning to read is not a simple process, and it goes through stages of development, just like many other skills you learn.
In fact, it is rather like learning to drive a car. Passing your driving test is just the beginning. You really learn when you are out on the road, and getting to the point of being able to read sophisticated, adult texts like the Discworld novels, is that point when you are out there, behind the wheel and the test is behind you.
One of the things we are working on at the moment is Oscar’s skills at figuring out what words that he is unfamiliar with mean through using context. He is used to the fact that there are billions of words that he does not know the meaning of, and he is more than happy to ask. He has been trained over the years to understand that it is absolutely the right thing to do to ask if he is in any doubt. He totally gets that it is not a sign of being stupid.
The next step for him is to learn different tools to figure things out for himself.
I don’t really want to interrupt the flow of his reading by asking him to get out a dictionary or look something up on Google. Immersion in the story and being eager to turn the page is far more valuable at this stage than figuring out what every single word might mean. There are times however when it is important for him to know certain crucial words.
At these times what I am asking him to do is to read the whole of the sentence the word he doesn’t know contains and then try to understand the word he doesn’t know in relation to the words he does. This sometimes takes as long as if we had just looked up the word in a dictionary, but at others it is amazing how quickly he can put the puzzle pieces together and figure out exactly what he needs to know.
He is getting better at it all the time. Some day, in the not too distant future there will truly come a day when he doesn’t need me at all.
I shall be sad, but also utterly thrilled.