We can attempt to teach the things that one might imagine the earth would teach us: silence, humility, holiness, connectedness, courtesy, beauty, celebration, giving, restoration, obligation and wildness.
David Orr from "Earth in Mind"

Feb 1, 2007

A Feel For Books

From house of books

It's a cold day here in Denver. The sort where reading is really the only thing you can do to whittle away the hours as you nurse a cold and watch your kid (who also ha a cold) sleep. So I picked a book out of my library bag and settled down at the table to read. Today it's Eternal Network, a book about mail art. Yesterday I read Troubling Love, and The Essential Hip Mama. The day before was Garlic and Sapphires. And Dirty Sugar Cookies as wells as the Lafcadio's Adventures the day before. [I've linked these because I wanted to share] Interspersed with these have been the books I read Alder. Add to this mix Kevin's books and text books you get a house piled with books.

All of these books are starting to have an effect on Alder. The same way he knew how to use a spoon the first time we handed him one he now knows how to handle a book. Well except that following flipping pages he tries to eat the books. Giving a new meaning to devouring a book. Sometimes when he's playing he tries to pull about out of my hand. Instead of giving it to him, I read what ever I'm reading to him. He continues playing but glances up if I lapse into silent reading. I know he doesn't know what I am saying but it's clear that he wants to be included when it comes to the books.

I guess this is one of those "rich environment" things they talk about. Alder is surrounded by books therefore he will have some relationship with them. If he sees his parents enjoying them he will think that they are for enjoying. This makes me think of the story Sam told me about the school he used to work where the students now spend six and a half hours a day reading and writing. The district's idea is that they will become excellent readers if they spend all their time doing it. The unintentional drawback is that none of these kids enjoy reading. They won't ever just pick up a book for pleasure because all they associate books with is being stuck in a desk all day and being forced to read.

"All kids in literate societies learn to read." David Albert wrote. He explains the obvious exceptions of children who have organic brain syndromes, visual problems and ptsd, used in the broadest sense. But his point is valid whether or not we set about to teach children the act of reading it is part of our development in literate cultures. In the microcosm of our house Alder will read because there are words all around him and he will want to make sense out of his environment. I'm not concerned if he learns to read at four or seven only that the process is pleasurable and that he never looks at reading as a punishment.

Like so many other things that he is learning reading is already beginning. I don't have any misconceptions that he understands what the markings on the page mean, but he does understand that there is something in these compilations of paper that attract his parents. He knows we look at the pages and that we go from one page to the one next to it. As a practical proof of this he know flips the pages for a while before sticking the book in his mouth. Of course he still puts everything in his mouth... eventually.

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