My son, who is almost 7, has learned to read. We have been working with him for the past year, a little at a time. He was never really excited about the act of reading, remaining unconvinced of the magic that we promised him. Every letter was a struggle. Even now, he can’t remember what an ‘n’ is half the time. He calls it ‘the upside u.’

We owe any enthusiasm Oscar has for reading to the power of story-telling. His love of magicians, adventure and fantasy is what maintained his enthusiasm for the written word. It pulled him through difficult lessons that often seemed to verge on physically painful.

I always hear about kids who teach themselves to read in a weekend, when they’re four. A 3-year-old at our homeschool coop recently recited his alphabet, flawlessly of course, then went on to recite the alphabet again, phonetically. He taught himself. My son was not like that. It seems he had to work twice as hard as anyone else to learn to read. He rubbed his eyes, squinted, wiggled, stood, sat back down, slid onto the floor, forgot what the ‘c’ sounds like. It was hard work.

It is his desire to re-experience his favorite books, by himself this time, that has kept him trying. So I want to offer my official thanks to the following authors: Cornelia Funke, Michael Buckley, Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi, J.K. Rowling, Angie Sage, Nancy Farmer, J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Paolini, Rick Riordan, Neil Gaiman and many others. Your incredible storytelling transported my son through the difficult task of learning to read.

Yesterday, we sat down with ‘Go, Dog. Go!’ He groaned and informed me that he probably was only going to read a few pages, but when he started the words came easily. He stopped to sound out a few, but was able to do so with minimal prompting from me.

“You’re doing a great job,” I said. “All the hard work you’ve been doing to learn is paying off.”

“No, Mom,” Oscar said. “This isn’t hard at all.”

Success.

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