Thursday, October 12th, 2017...12:13 pmhrbekm

Learning to Read through Exposure

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I learned how to read gradually. At least that’s what my mom told me when I called to ask her, for the occasion of this blog post, if she had any memories to share with me about the process. She reminded me that I grew up in a house full of books, and that she or my dad would read to me every night. Since I was the youngest of three kids and my parents were both busy with full-time jobs, bedtime stories functioned as a substitute for more structured efforts to foster my reading ability in those earlier years.

But this was never a problem. Although I didn’t start reading independently until I was 5 or 6 years old, I loved stories and the words that constituted them long before then. There were a few children’s books that I insisted on hearing so often that I could recite the words from memory before I was actually able to read them myself. And I remember being fascinated, though not quite comprehending at 3 years old, as my parents read Harry Potter and other lengthy novels┬áto my older siblings. I began to learn more formally in pre-school, and my reading ability was cemented around the time I was in kindergarten, aided by the rows of alphabet letters I was required to copy for homework.

Though it was a gradual process, learning to read didn’t pose a challenge for me. Even now, my parents never miss an opportunity to say that I spoke with an advanced vocabulary at a young age, and used words that they didn’t understand how a toddler could have learned. But I suspect I learned them by listening to the verbal language of adults — picking up on individual words first and letting them inform my reading comprehension as I grew.

1 Comment

  •   Professor Seiler
    October 14th, 2017 at 11:10 am

    Melanie–somehow I’m not surprised by your story of organic literacy development, or by your having grown up in a house full of books, as your mom put it. The less structured but routine quality of nightly bedtime reading seems to have been just the thing for you. Thanks for this thoughtful post.

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