I know that I’ve said before that kids learning to read is akin to magic. I’m going to pull that analogy back out because watching reading happen is a wondrous, delightful thing to behold. I love that Big Leap, when a child goes from having to read with you to reading by themselves.
My six-year-old daughter had been trembling on that border line for a while, but a few weeks ago she finally made the big leap. We’d been tag-team reading The Unicorn’s Secret series by Kathleen Duey. She’d read the first and last pages of each chapter, and I would read the material in between. Most of the way through book 4, however, she said, “Mom, I want to finish this up by myself.”
I confess to feeling a little doubtful, but I said “Sure”, figuring that if she found it too challenging we could go back to tag-teaming it. So Miss M. took the book, read her way through to the end, then worked her way through books 5-8, interspersed with many “Mom, guess what happened!” exclamations. After that, there was no looking back. Miss M.’s world has opened up to include The Magic Treehouse, The Secrets of Droon, and all the picture books her younger brother is happy to let her read to him.
My little girl is reading. Reading! She made the Big Leap.
A related phenomenon to the Big Leap is what I call the Big Book. A child looks at a book way beyond his reading ability, one that even doting parents and encouraging teachers secretly believe he’ll never get through, and says, with a determined gleam in his eye, “This is the one. This is the book I’m going to read.” This can happen at any age, and you can’t predict when, or what that Big Book might be.
When Sir I. was five, and had been reading chapter books in the Magic Treehouse and the Flat Stanley series for a few months, we took a family vacation to Maine. Sir I. insisted on bringing Jean Craighead George’s My Side of the Mountain along, much to my (private) skepticism. And he read it. It was beyond what I thought he could read, but he read it and understood it and enjoyed it.
It was his Big Book.
My husband’s Big Book was The Neverending Story which he read because his parents and older sister had. He was about seven-ish at the time. Mine, at the age of four-ish, was Enid Blyton’s The Secret Island (I have a hard time remembering my Big Book or my Big Leap because I was an early reader–I can’t even remember a time when I didn’t know how to read).
Do you remember your Big Leap? What was your Big Book? How about for your kids?