Google Something Clever 2.0: I Taught a Human Being to Read

May 16, 2013

I Taught a Human Being to Read

I could read when I was three years old. And I mean, I could read a book. I was a really smart kid. So, of course, I assumed that my son would be reading at three. He had my genes, and he had me for a teacher. It was inevitable, right?

When he was one, I would write a different letter on his chalk board every day. I'd tell him what sound the letter made. I'd list words that started with that letter. He didn't really care.

When he was two, we played with letter magnets. I'd give him three that spelled a word, and try to get him to put them in the correct order. He preferred his dinosaur magnets. He couldn't identify ten letters, but he could identify 30 different dinosaurs, and tell you whether they were herbivores, omnivores, or carnivores.

When he was three, I got him workbooks and flashcards. I downloaded an app on my phone where he could trace letters. I'd point out the letters on packages of food at the grocery store. He would yell, scribble, or ignore me.

When he turned four, I officially considered myself a failure. I knew two-year-olds who knew the alphabet better than him. Sometimes, I could swear that he knew more than he was letting on. Like he was playing dumb for some reason... Whatever the reason, I had failed him.

Then, one day at Target, he looked up and said, "Eh... kssss... i.... tuh. Ex... it. Hey, Jenn, that sign says 'Exit'!"

Holy shit! My boy just read!

I wheeled him around the store, pointing out all the other exit signs. He was delighted to learn that they were everywhere, and soon became an expert at spotting them in every store.

Once he read that first word, it was like opening up the flood gates. He was sounding out everything. This has created some problems, like the time he was sitting next to me on the couch, and announced, "You ssss-uck. You suck." What?! Oh, right, You Suck by Christopher Moore is sitting on the shelf. Thanks, Author Guy (great author, seriously).

We'd been sitting on a Barnes & Noble gift card since his birthday in January. Last month, I took him to the store to spend it. It turns out, if he gets to choose what he's reading, he's more than willing:

Today, a month after this video was shot, he can read the whole damn book himself. It turns out, he was learning all that time. He just didn't feel like reading yet.

I am a good teacher, after all. I am a good mom. And I'm pretty proud of that.