Sound it Out

readingtime Margaret Zuzu and I are working on reading right now.

(Yes, Margaret Zuzu. Lately, she’s been asking the adults in her life to only call her Margaret. Which I love. But then I think, but what about Zuzu? Are we leaving that behind all together? Let’s not do that, alright? So then I call her Margaret Zuzu, which is lovely and her whole name, but also kind of an onerous title to have to shout across a grocery aisle. Which means at some point I’ll stop doing it and Zuzu will rest in between the beginning and end of her name, which is where I put it, but the silent sound it will make saddens me nonetheless.)

Anyways, we’re opening up the language of the written word and it’s been a bit terrifying and a lot exhilarating and full of rules that make sense and rules that don’t. Her favorite bits of the exploration of the written language are the minutes we spend with our Bob Books each day. Little paperback things with stories as colorful as their covers, Margaret (Zuzu) has felt the triumph of early literacy as she’s read words without help and laughed at silly situations the symbols on the page gave form. (Isn’t it amazing that letters are symbols? You and I practice the art of symbology any time we scribble a grocery list, tap out a text or write another entry into our journal.)

Margaret (Zuzu) is now pretty certain she’s got this reading thing down and in her sureness has begun to trip ahead of the words on the page. Making up words and sentences based on what she thinks or wishes to be there rather than what actually is. When I correct her, ask her to linger longer on the letters and their sounds, she laughs and tries again. Today was not really any different as we went back over words and sentences, she was happy and savored the real story just as surely as the parallel on that ran in her head.

It was a lesson to me. I’ve spent the past several months trying to finish my life’s sentences. Anticipating events and meaning and punctuation and content, I’ve lost my place. Perhaps it will be all so much better, so much more comprehensible if I simply sound out everything as I go.

And when I forget myself and run ahead until I trip,  I’ll look back to that little girl with those little books and laugh and try again.

And again.