I watched closely, holding my breath. She hesitated; then her eyes opened wider and she leaned closer to the page. Her lips moved and I could just make out the sounds as she voiced the first part of the word, then the rest in one big part. She repeated the whole thing--blending it together a bit--just like we've been working on in word study and in reading group and during writing workshop. H. looked surprised. She glanced at the pictures and then back at the word. A slow smile started at the corners of her mouth as she repeated the word. She went back to the start of the sentence and reread, this time grouping words together in phrases and reading right through the word she had just solved. The smile widened and a slow blush spread over her cheeks as I hooted and slapped the table--that a girl!
H. peeked up for a split second and then kept going. To the end of that page and then the next, reading more quickly and phrasing more naturally. I watched excitedly, clapping my hands and laughing aloud. The other kids at the reading table paused to watch, one whispering, "keep going H!". Her confidence was visible in her voice, her smile and the excited way she turned page after page, more and more quickly. As she finished, H. looked up and grinned. "I really, REALLY love this book! That was fun!" It was--it was more than fun. It was a pivotal moment in her reading life.
You know, H. loves school and has been making progress--just barely meeting benchmarks and feels generally successful. However, she has not been an enthusiastic reader. Until Thursday. That day changed things for H. Thursday she felt for the first time what it's like when everything she needs to do and know and be as a reader comes together and it not only feels comfortable, but fun! On Thursday, this young reader felt "it". She couldn't wait to get home to tell her family about this very important day in her reading life. On Friday she was the first one at the reading table, eagerly waiting for a new book. She looked at me with a gleam in her eye and announced, "I can't wait--this is going to be great!"
It was. And I got to be there for it.