Too Much Noise: Carrie Learns to Read. By Walt Prentice.
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Too Much Noise:Carrie Learns to Read
By Walt Prentice
Children learn what is demonstrated. In our house, reading was something we all did and enjoyed. Books were everywhere. It is only natural that our daughter, Carrie, took an early interest in books and reading, and learned to read before entering the first grade. Here is how she did it.
From the day she was born, Carrie heard the language of books. We read to her often—always at bedtime, sometimes at nap time, and usually whenever she asked us to. She also listened to her favorite books we recorded for her on a cassette tape player we bought her when she was 3 years old.
Books were among Carrie’s favorite playthings, and we never doubted that she would learn to read. At first we did all the reading; Carrie listened and thought and processed the language going into her brain through her ears and her eyes. Then she started to take over.
At first, she would fill in a word that she knew if we paused in our reading. (We read the same books over and over so she learned them “by heart.”) Gradually, she was able to “read” some books from memory. She would then read her favorites to her dolls or stuffed animals, or her little brother.
One night, after we had turned out the light, Carrie (now 4 and ½ years old) hopped out of bed, turned the light on, and got the book we had just read to her, “Too Much Noise.” As she read it over to herself, she suddenly recognized a word: “Outside”. She had matched the spoken word in her head to the written word on the page.
The bed creaked.
The floor squeaked.
Outside, the wind blew the leaves
through the trees.
The leaves fell on the roof. Swish.
The tea kettle whistled. Hiss. Hiss.
“Too noisy”, said Peter.
Voila! Carrie found other occurrences of “Outside” in “Too Much Noise” (which has a repeating pattern, like many folktales), then located it in other books she knew by heart. From there she figured out other words until she had a considerable “reading” vocabulary. Carrie was on her way to independent reading.
Of course this is an “abbreviated” story, but all the elements for learning to read are here. I’ve identified five (5) factors that lead naturally to reading—the “5 R’s of Reading Readiness”—which follow.
Note: You will find an article I wrote, “Introducing Children to Reading”, which appeared in the Fall 1980 issue of the Wisconsin State Reading Association Journal, on my website “waltprentice.com”. It contains a useful bibliography for those interested in reading more about factors contributing to early reading.
So, if you read to your child from a very early age, read his favorite books over and over again, answer his questions about print, value his role-playing and risk-taking with print, marvel at his considerable language-learning abilities, accept his approximations (rather than expecting “correctness” at the outset), and believe that he will become literate, then it will happen. Of course there is more to it—that’s what schools are for. But you will have provided the foundation that will ensure your child’s success in school. And you both have had great fun sharing in the joys and excitement of books!