Petie bought Joelle a great set of books today that help kids who are learning how to read. It’s a great set of 10 small books that Joelle loves so far. True to form, Joelle isn’t one to put down an activity that she enjoys. When at my parents’ house, Honey (my mom), would give her an activity book with stickers and they would go through the activities one by one until they were all done. Then Joelle would ask if Honey had another activity book for them to conquer. It took some negotiating to get her to agree to hold off until next time.

So it is with anything – you can tell if she likes the activity whether it be a game, reading, riding her bike, etc. If you don’t have a good reason to stop, it’s not happening. These books have proved no different. When given the opportunity to keep one in her bed to read she jumped at the opportunity and picked one that she hadn’t looked at (she and Petie went through 3 of the 10 before bed) yet and said she would “stay up all night reading it” so she would get a sticker. (You get a sticker when you read one of the books on your own). We countered saying if she stayed up all night she wouldn’t be getting a sticker anyway….

Forty-five minutes after bedtime I walk by her room from our study and she is sitting in the hallway reading the book. I tell her to get back into bed and she gives me a sad “o….k…..good night” with a discouraged look on her face. No one likes a frowning four-year-old. “Good night, I love you,” I say. She looks up, seeing a chink in the armor of the sleep patrol. “I only got THIS far (about one-third of the way) in the book,” she says. “It says THE FISH SITS and then what?” She was stuck on a new word. She’s still at the point of memorizing common words and being able to figure out some similar ones. I continued the sentence in the book, “…WITH…”. Her face lost its tension–happy to be past this obstacle and processing a new word which she knew she would see again.

Besides enjoying watching this process of Joelle learning to read it reminded me of when I was seven or eight years old. I, too, chose reading over sleep on many occasions. My brother Danny did it, too. There is photographic evidence of me asleep with a book on the rug next to the sinks in our bathroom and Danny asleep sitting in his laundry basket in his closet. When I saw Joelle sitting in the hallway reading, it brought back a memory from twenty-five or so years ago. The memory wasn’t new, but the vividness of it was magnified tremendously. I remember going out into the hallway after everyone was asleep, laying on my stomach in the shaggy carpet and reading by the hall light; a small light bulb that was about ankle level. An uncommon but useful place for a hall night light. Even better as a child’s reading lamp.