Thalassa had an excellent blog here this am: http://nuannapoq.wordpress.com on reading aloud to your kids. I have no doubt that the reason I could read at three was because I was read aloud to. We got read to twice a day. I don’t think they planned it that way. I think it just happened because I was a notoriously bad nap taker so Mom started reading to my brother and I in the afternoons and my Dad read to us something different before bed.
I can still remember some of the books too. My favourite for a long while was a series about Henrietta the goose that I’m afraid is no longer in print because I haven’t found it anywhere. What comes up in a search is about a goose who thinks she is a horse and the publication date is way too new. These would have been published in the 1950’s or before. We also loved to Swedish sets of books that happily are in print, Snipp, Snapp and Snurr and Flicka, Ricka and Dicka by Maj Lindman printed in English in the 1930’s. I still have them up on a shelf. We loved the adventures of the two sets of triplets.
But the reading that caught my attention was when Mom started reading the Land of Oz books to us. Mom would read up until an exciting part and then stop for the day. This drove me crazy as a child. One day my brother was complaining loudly to Mom that that was not where she left off the day before and that was how they discovered I could read. I’d been so annoyed the day before with Mom leaving off that I had snuck the book and read ahead to find out what happened next. I still hate cliffhangers unless I’m writing them.
Mom had been a first grade teacher but I don’t think she intended for me to learn to read that way. I don’t remember sitting with her to learn how letters sounded or to learn to recognize them. I just remember having to be where my right eye could see the page clearly and learned to follow along. Somewhere in this I also learned to alternate lines reading one line in one direction and the next back the other direction so I could read faster. That was not how my first grade teacher was teaching when I got there and I was really bored with stupid Dick and Jane and Puff and Spot at the time. I didn’t like reading baby books but I couldn’t read aloud and strangely I still have trouble with it.
Mom had a strange list of books that we read. For some reason she hated Pooh and I never even ran into Winnie the Pooh until I was an adult. I asked her why once and she said they were too babyish for us.
My Dad read us the Just So Stories and I loved them and drove him nuts asking over and over for the tale of the Elephant’s Child. We read the Emperor’s New Clothes and lots of fairy tales with Dad. Dad also liked reading nursery rhymes and A Child’s Garden of Verse by R.L. Stevenson. We read the story of Greyfriar’s Bobby and I was thrilled when Disney made the movie. Dad also read us Dr Seuss. From Dad we got the sounds of words and stories with proper endings before bed. From Mom we got long books and I think she was attempting to give us a longer look and love of full books. Either way my brother and I learned to love the printed word and when my more active sister finally came along 10 years after me she had a hard time when we were all reading at night and she wanted to play but she finally got with the program.