Yesterday a miracle happened at our house. The school bus pulled up at its usual time, but Em still hadn’t gotten to the door after a minute or so. Why the glacial pace up the driveway? Because… she had her nose in a book! She was reading and walking. And not just any book. A Magic Tree House chapter book, to be precise. Her first time flying solo with a chapter book. I thought I would melt into the floor at that moment. Is it possible to spontaneously combust from joy?
Before I leave you with the impression that Em is a child prodigy, let me assure you she has been reading for quite a while. Last year in Kindergarten she was reading the “Mat sat with his cat” and “Joy and a boy play with a toy” type books. Over the summer, she could read Green Eggs and Ham (although it took about 45 minutes). Now in first grade she’s been slowly moving from the very simple easy readers to the more advanced. But throughout this progression, one thing remained the same; she read those books aloud. Even when we sat down for “silent reading,” she would fall back on reading out loud. As for chapter books, we’ve read dozens of those together – with me reading out loud to her.
For seven years, I have fantasized about my kids and I curling up and reading our books together in quiet companionship, then sharing our thoughts and feelings about our reading. I’ve lived for the day when I no longer have to choose between reading or spending time with the kids (or waiting to read until after they go to bed). Yesterday we took a giant step toward that new reality.
Em reading her own book silently would have been miracle enough for one day, but that miracle had the audacity to continue. Leaving for her ballet class she asked, “Mom can I read my book in the car?” After we got home, she curled up on the chair in her bedroom and read some more. The theme from Peter Pan – “You can fly, you can fly, you can fly…” kept playing in my head.
What a cause for celebration! I let her have apple juice with dinner. I had a glass of red wine and we had a toast. Snuggling in bed after lights out, she said, “Now I can read James and the Giant Peach, and Junie B. Jones and Ramona all by myself!” I know it’s both cliché and melodramatic, but I couldn’t help thinking, as I closed her door for the night, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”