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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Reading With Dick and Jane

When I was in first grade, my parents worried that I wasn't learning to read, but the way I remember it is that I read ahead in my little Dick and Jane book. Then, when the teacher called on me, I didn’t know where the class was and so couldn’t take my turn. We Look and See, the first of many gripping  novels to come under my purview.

I read out loud to my children, of course. Long past the age of independent reading, we’d sit on the couch where I’d read YA or adult books to them, and we’d talk and laugh over them. (Yes, at that age, you can dispense with the funny voices.) On long car trips back in those pre-DVD and i-pod days, we’d pass a book around and take turns reading to each other. Well, not Dad, of course; he was driving. 

So it goes down the line. One of my favorite activities is reading to my grandchildren, and now the tables are turning again. Suzie read Owl Babies to me over the phone the other day, whining Bill’s line, “I want my Mommy” with admirable realism. Not to be outdone, Alan informed that that his (imaginary) brother had liked The Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar when he was little. Alan's four, so one wonders how little his imaginary brother was at the time. 

Looks like my certification as a reading specialist paid off.  We're a family of readers. I no longer teach, but I do tutor kids in reading, and it seems to take pretty well. At the least, the children come without a fuss and don’t seem too twitchy to leave. I mean, everybody loves to read, right? If they don’t, they just haven’t found the right reading material. That’s been my viewpoint until . . . .

The other morning when our new TV guide arrived folded in the Sunday Post. I realized that sports lovers have no need of the written word. It’s all laid out in little icons. A stick figure bouncing a round ball, that’s basketball. One running with a ball in front of its foot, that’s soccer. The same figure with an ellipsoid means football. Here’s proof of what I long suspected:  the actual teams don’t matter. Why bother with details? One printed icon and the channel number is all that’s wanted.

My husband will watch any of the shows represented by the stick people.  I’ll join him on the couch. I can sit there quietly with my current Dick and Jane.

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