By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
If you’ve gotten far enough in your literacy journey to read this column with ease, you’ve probably forgotten how hard it can be to learn to read English.
The human brain is hard-wired to absorb spoken language. The wiring has to get crossed by defect of nature or lack of nurture for the ability to speak a language not to kick in.
The ability to read is not hard-wired. It takes dedication and hard work. However, it is also one of the most important skills we can master, especially in this brave new electronic world. It opens the door to worlds of learning, ideas and entertainment. But being able to step through the doors of literacy doesn’t come easy.
Learning to read is very hard, often frustrating work. At the Morris house, we’re currently in Round 2 of learning how to read. There’s only two and a half years between our kids, but you forget how hard little jaws clench as they wrestle with sounding out a new word.
English is an annoying, contrary language full of contradictions. The old phonics rhyme “when two vowels go walking, the first one says its name” is only true about 30 percent of the time. It almost makes you wish we spoke Latin.
It’s deflating to watch a kid sweat over sounding out a word according to the rules, and then telling him that word doesn’t follow the rules. But it’s wonderful to see the light go on when they can read a sentence smoothly or the joy on their faces when they come home and announce that they’ve moved up a reading level.
It’s amazing to me what teachers are able to do with the youngest children to help move them along. But they can’t do it alone. Parents have to get involved.
Learning to read is truly a journey of 10,000 steps. It has to be taken bit by bit, and it seems to move most smoothly when you do a little bit every day. Reading to your children every day, and when the time comes, letting them read to you pays huge dividends.
Kids who are reading on grade level at the end of third grade are on track for success in the rest of their school career. The kids who aren’t have to fight an uphill battle to finish learning to read as the rest of their peers move on to reading to learn. That doesn’t mean they can’t climb the mountain, but it does mean they risk slipping further and further behind.
But reading doesn’t stop in school. It can add blessings to your entire life, opening up new avenues for enjoyment, for careers and for a wider understanding of yourself and the world.
There are so many resources available in our communities to enrich every step of your literary life. Reach out and grab them.
Michaela Gibson Morris is a Daily Journal staff writer and mother of two. Contact her at (662) 678-1599 or firstname.lastname@example.org.