Late Readers

Do you worry about kids that are late readers?

My fourth child is eight years old and is still not reading. I keep telling myself that I’m not too worried about it. Her sister didn’t read till she was almost eight. I learned with her that it will come. That was after I stressed and grieved and panicked over the delay for a couple off years.

Why wasn’t she reading? My first two kids read by their fifth birthdays, and this third child didn’t even like sitting down to look at or listen to books. I pushed her to try. I used tried and true materials to teach her how to read. I bribed her with prizes. But all she wanted to do was play outside. Every day. All day. Then one summer, at nearly eight, she picked up some phonics readers at the library and began to read the words she knew and asked about the ones that she didn’t know. A few weeks later she picked up her Bible and “read” Genesis 1:1 and some from memory. She must have reread those first few verses 20 times over the next few weeks. Then she checked out a Harry Potter book from the library. Do you know how thick those are?! She loves the movies, so I let her get the book. She could only read a few sentences from her favorite part. I think she read about one and a half pages over the two weeks that we had the book. But she read.

That was about two years ago. Now at ten, she has just finished her first chapter book, Sarah, Plain and Tall (and Skylark). Not only did she read it, she fell in love with the characters. It was the first time she had experienced loving a story that she read. It was a short book, and she still needed help with some of the words, but now she’s looking for more books to read. She has found that joy.

Back to the fourth child. I’ve started to stress a bit over her not reading yet. Sure, her sister didn’t read till nearly eight, but now this girl is past that imaginary deadline, and I’m getting a little nervous. She enjoys being read to a few times a week. That’s a good sign, right? She can read a little when we do simple phonics lessons. She even messily sounds out some words to write down sometimes. So why hasn’t she decided to take on reading?

Just as I’m thinking about this little delay again, she insists she cannot read the words on the cover of the book she’s looking at, but reads the letters. P.E.O.P.L.E. of C.A.N.A.D.A. Was that what I thought I heard? Did she read “of” just that easily without realizing it even herself? And I realize it is happening. She is finally starting to read. There will be success after all.

It’s not going to happen tomorrow. It may take another year or more before she reads well. What will I do in the meantime? I’ll wait. I’ll read to her. I’ll let her experience life in other ways. I’ll talk with her. I’ll wait. I’ll show her videos. I’ll remind her kindly of all of the things I learn and enjoy by reading. I’ll continue to take her to the library for books she enjoys. I’ll wait.

It will happen. And when it does, when she finds that first book that she loves and devours ever so laboriously, it will have been worth the wait.


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