Monday, April 2nd, 2018...12:39 amElizabeth

Autobiography: learning to read

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I began my journey of learning how to read when I was a baby. Learning to read did not happen overnight, in fact, it took years of practicing up until second grade. Every single evening my mother, an elementary school teacher who taught K-2, would read aloud to me for story time. My mother knew exactly what it took to teach a child how to read. It was very beneficial having a mother as a teacher because I got extra support in, and out of the classroom. She was also very patient, and had wonderful resources for me. She gave my kindergarten teacher reading materials for the whole class to use and learn from.

More specifically, in the beginning, everything I saw, from a street sign to a milk carton I began learning how to read. I would point to words and try to sound them out. My mom would sing the alphabet song to me everywhere in the car in the grocery store you name it! I first learned the letters in my name by playing various name games and puzzles my mom had made. Once I learned the whole alphabet through singing the song, and listening to stories I was able to read words. I started naming anything I saw and trying to figure out what everything was and meant.

I looked at sight words in picture books, and became more familiar with high frequency words. I was taught rhyming words, consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC), i.e. “bat-cat” in short primary books with repeating patterns, which made learning to read fun. I practiced reading every evening to my parents when in kindergarten, first grade and second grade. My parents and my teachers read aloud to me every day modeling how good readers read with expression. I was also asked comprehension questions to make sure that I understood the story I was reading and the ones I was being read to.

During the summers my mom would have reading and writing lessons for my sister and I to keep practicing. Learning to read became apart of my everyday life without me really ever noticing. Reading was fun for me, and it still is because of my curiosity and passion for learning.


  • It was fun to see your journey of learning how to read. I think how we learned to read, despite the differences between the American and Vietnamese alphabet, was quite similar. The best way to teach a child words is offering a chance to practice with high frequency. As children, we were extremely active and our minds did not stay put in one place for a long period of time. That’s why parents, grandmas, and grandpas have always tried to incorporate something fun into reading, whether in the form of challenges, games, or fairy tales. Having a close family member who has good experience with children and their learning-to-read journeys was really beneficial. In your case, it was your mother’s love, patience, and wonderful methods that turned reading into an effortless process. To me, it was my grandmother whose grand collection of children books and Asian novels piqued my passion for words and their meanings. Similar to your experience of trying to figure out syllables from milk cartons and street signs, I used spend so much effort just to see what was written on noodle packages and yogurt containers. Reading came to me naturally because the “alphabet” was present in my everyday life – as I believe it was in your childhood.

  •   Professor Seiler
    April 10th, 2018 at 2:09 am

    Elizabeth–I hope you shared this post with your mom! What a gift to have a mother who’s also a children’s educator. I’m so struck by your own education literacy, and especially by the vocabulary you have to describe your process of learning to read. You might not even realize how specialized it is!

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