Thursday, December 6, 2007

Undercover Storyteller


A few nights ago, after Terry put Astrid to bed, I saw him puzzling over a bunch of letters Astrid had written in her notebook. Though I hadn't thought much about it at the time, Terry later pointed out that she'd really resisted his attempts to get her to put down the pencil--she said she was writing a story, and that she couldn't finish it in the morning. On its own, this wasn't unusual, as she's the kind of kid who will resist pretty much any suggestion, no matter how appealing, if she thinks she can assert her personhood by doing so. (There's a *lot* of personhood assertion going on at our house.)

I asked Terry what he was seeing in her writing, and he called me over. "Read it," he said. I stared at it for a while, not seeing much, and then asked *him* to read it. I felt kinda dumb when he sounded it out for me (remember, he and I are both writing teachers, and I regularly teach my Composition Theory students about "emergent literacy," or the beginnings of reading and writing in young children). He pronounced each letter as Astrid was likely to have been hearing it in her mind (for example, she used a "y" for the sound made by "w," because the English name for "y" starts with a "w" sound.)

Astrid is *just* learning how to read; she can sound out a lot of short words, and she's been looking at books since she was a baby. When she writes, she either does it without spaces (as in this example), or puts each word on its own line. For me, finally figuring out that she had written "Once upon a time" was cool, cool, cool. I don't have a great memory for these milestones--I'm embarrassed to say that I have no baby books or scrapbooks for either Elliot or Astrid--but I don't remember Elliot learning to write at the very same time as he was learning to read. (He did start decoding words a few months before Astrid.)

Anyway, talk about asserting personhood....

1 comment:

Tony said...

Wow and wow again. This pretty much made me melt. Give our budding author a big hug from her friends in Olympia.