Reading at young age opens amazing doors

She advises me she is reading 20 books in 20 nights for her Grade 1 class.

It was bedtime after a typical day at Grandpa’s. The ice cream cones were done, the movie was over and the grandson was zonked on the couch. At Grandpa’s place, there is no waking up to get changed or washed, you just throw a blanket over him and mark that as the end of his busy day.

However, the granddaughter has a routine. She puts on her pj’s, brushes her teeth and gathers all the necessary things that will accompany her to bed. She advises me she is reading 20 books in 20 nights for her Grade 1 class, so she will pick out one for me to read to her and one for her to read to me.

The fact that this will also delay bedtime is not lost on me. I have been herding kids to bed for many years and the creativity put into ‘staying up’ ploys never ceases to amaze me.

She goes into the spare room to the old bookshelf that has been around for years. The content is in no alphabetical order and the titles span decades, everything from Hardy Boys to Harry Potter. There are number books, alphabet books, puzzle books and poetry books. There are adventures with the Berenstain Bears or the gang from Sesame Street. There are fairy tales and fables leaning against I Spy books and of course a whole selection of Dr. Seuss books.

The Dr. Seuss books have been well read indeed. Some are missing covers; some have been coloured in, some have pages missing. One even has a phone number written in felt pen on the top of one page which means somebody must have called during a reading session. I like to see books that have been used. A book, never opened, in pristine condition, is a sad sight for sure.

From this eclectic library she chooses Kerwin the Ketchup Bottle for me to read and she will entertain me with Dr. Seuss’s ABC, a book I am very familiar with.

As she reads, I can’t help but think of all the amazing writers who have composed memorable sonnets and soliloquies, or penned epic poems or massive novels and yet none of them came close to having the commercial success of a man who wrote, “Big Y, little y, a yawning yellow yak. Young Yolanda Yorgensen is yelling on his back.”

Her reading is very deliberate, stopping only once in a while to silently sound out a word. I find myself thinking about comedian Steven Wright commenting on our complicated English language who asks, “ Why isn’t the word phonics spelt with an “f” the way it sounds and who was cruel enough to put an “s” in the word lisp?

Indeed, we have an amazing language and we are told that with texting now being so prevalent our language will morph into a new form over the next few decades.

Her reading is very serious and she stops only to smile at Silly Sammy Slick or Waldo Woo. She reads very well and is very proud when she is done. Then she makes a nest of her favorite blanket, tucks in a couple of stuffed sleeping companions and, finally, gives in to the night.

To be able to master reading and printing at six years old, what amazing doors that opens for a child. We should never take that for granted.

At least that’s what McGregor says.