I Have To Read!

When my daughter was 3 she came to me as I was working at my desk. She looked up to me and said ‘I have to read.’

Since her birth, we read to her…as a baby we would lie on our backs as I held brightly colored picture books over head. She would smile and kick her legs at the sight of the pictures in the book. Once I began to read she would relax somewhat, but as the pages were turned her eyes would open in amazement and her legs resumed kicking excitedly.

As she grew I noticed she would imitate this routine with her dolls and stuffed animals. She would toddle into the bedroom, book under her arm, pull back the covers, and lay her baby and herself on the bed. She would hold a book over their heads and she would ‘read’ the story. She had heard the stories over and over, and she would recite what she remembered and embellish or make up what she thought it should say if necessary.

At some point, she realized she wasn’t actually reading. She knew she was only telling a story from what I had read to her previously. When she told me she had to read, I didn’t realize how important this task was to her and I simply said, ‘you are reading…’ to which she explained she wasn’t really reading she was only making up the story with the pictures she saw. I continued this conversation until I noticed she wasn’t looking at me anymore. I pulled her chin up and saw tears in her eyes. She said ‘I have to read to my babies, really read.’ I tried to explain to her that she would know how to read as she got older… “but,” she exclaimed, “I am older, I’m 3!”

She began learning the alphabet and was happy with that for about a year, but when she turned 5, her desire to read increased. As most parents, we told her how ‘big’ she was when she turned 5. She could tie her shoes, dress herself, comb her hair, brush her teeth, etc. All that ‘big-girl’ stuff. But, she not only wanted to read, she HAD to read.

The day after her 5th birthday, she was looking for her Bible. I helped her to locate it and she said she was going into her room to study. She took her Bible, turned on the desk lamp, got her a pad and pencil and studied. After a bit, she came out and said, ‘Moma, I thought since I turned 5 I could read. I tried, but I still can’t…can you read this to me?’ as she handed me her Bible. ‘Luke, I like Luke, Luke One…ok Moma?’ How could I refuse?

We read Luke Chapter One, Two, Three as her eyelids began to close. I thought she was asleep and I put the Bible down…she opened her eyes and promptly told me “I’m not asleep, keep reading.” Most of the words I knew she couldn’t understand but she was adamant so I obliged.

Since learning the alphabet, she is able to put together some words and sound them out. She surprises us and herself sometimes when she ‘really reads’ a highway sign or a billboard. She is excited and her world is expanding each day with her new-found knowledge. One day she will ‘really-read’ and a part of me will miss the child-like desire she now portrays and the zeal she has for learning.

God has a special calling on this child of mine, and I believe I am watching His will unfold with this desire and drive she has for reading. Only time will tell for sure how God plans to use her and what He is preparing her for—but is ever exciting to me to be able to watch and to be a part of it.

Shanna Hoskison (c) Feb 2005





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