Watching your granddaughter fall in love with reading
By Guest Blogger on September 14th, 2012
There’s something special about working for Scholastic. The truth is, employees take our mission of getting kids to learn to read and love to read to heart. We’re invested in the work we do, because we’ve seen how the magic of reading has changed our own lives. And we love witnessing it happen to others. That’s just what happened to Russell Thomas, our director of internal communications, last weekend. He stopped by to share his story. Thanks, Russell!
Reading has always been a major part of my life. Even though a few, OK, more than a few, decades have passed since the magical day I learned to read, I still remember, with clarity and fondness, the name and face of my second grade teacher who gave me the tools to unlock the mysteries of the printed page. I’ve always considered that teacher to be a Great Emancipator. She gave me the freedom to enter any world I chose, at any time, simply by opening the cover of a book.
What brings this to mind now after so many years? In a word, Storia®, and the effect it had on Ella, my four year old granddaughter during a recent family visit. Ella wanted to pester the family cat. The cat elected not to be pestered, and used claws and teeth to communicate that fact. Since Ella is both fearless and has scant familiarity with the word ‘No,’ we needed a distraction that was less furry and more welcoming than the cat. Happily, Mommy’s iPad was within reach, so I grabbed it, downloaded Storia and five free ebooks and offered it up as something better than a cat.
At this point in her life, Ella is more media savvy than literate. So she was able to quickly open her first five ebooks and determine that three of the five titles were ‘broken,’ because they did not read aloud to her. So she seized on the two titles that did read themselves to her, and we sat through multiple readings watching as the words were highlighted and listening to the story. But then an amazing and wonderful thing happened. By the fourth trip through Clifford’s Good Deeds, I noticed that Ella was not simply sitting back and being entertained. Staring fixedly at the screen as words were pronounced, she had apparently begun to realize that what minutes ago had been mere markings on a screen were, in fact, words, words she herself was familiar with.
I’m not and never have been a teacher, but I know that moment, when a child’s face becomes a supernova of sudden understanding and insight, is the moment that every teacher lives for. Ella recognized actual words. True, they were modest words — friend, cat, dog, girl – but they were her words, her newest friends. And, using her media savvy, she went back to the three ‘broken’ books looking for the new words she had just learned to recognize. When she found them, she giggled with excitement, swelled with pride and went back looking for more.
A reader was born, and I was a part of it. Even from the perspective of decades, there are few things more thrilling.
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