Kids read the darndest things

Wary child

“I don’t know where those chocolate kisses went, I swear!” Image courtesy of sideshowmom, Morguefile.

Children learn their own language from many sources. They’ll pick it up through the speech of their relatives and friends (although sometimes this can be embarrassing when a child repeats a rude phrase that they’ve picked up from somebody else!). They acquire more language in classrooms, in public areas, on TV, on the radio and in movies. (Providing they sit still long enough throughout the movie. Some toddlers I’ve met stay still for about ten seconds and then zoom off to another area of the room faster than you can say “NASCAR”.)

I’m also fascinated by how children pick up their language and grow up to be avid readers. When my sibs’ kids were toddlers and I needed a rest from their usual antics, we often read books together. We used what I call the “Whazzat?” learning method, a time-honored tradition in my family.

Me (pointing to picture of bird in the kid’s alphabet book): “Whazzat?”

Toddler (proudly): “APPLE!”

Me (flipping page to next image): “Whazzat?”

Toddler (triumphantly): “BIRD!”

Me: “That’s right! Yaaay!”

Toddler (echoing me): “Yaaaay!”

Now that my sibs’ kids are older, each one has developed his or her own reading preferences. One adores the Twilight series and is on her way to becoming a good writer, using Wattpad. Another kid likes cooking books and classic books such as My Side Of The Mountain and The Far Side Of The Mountain, both by Jean Craighead George.

It’s fun having these kids become more mature because it’s entertaining to talk about certain authors and books. It’s almost like they’ve become my peers, in a sense, even though our age ranges are different.

Back in October, I had a couple of discussions with two of them involving writer Edgar Allan Poe, whose stories they were assigned to read in school. I’ve read classic literature most of my life and it was a big part of my college education, so it’s interesting to hear their opposing viewpoints on characters, stories or authors that I know well. And I contribute some of the information I’ve learned that these kids may not know, such as the story of the Poe Toaster and the blog post I wrote about Poe’s brief time at the University of Virginia.

I hope these kids never outgrow their fascination with reading and writing. I think it will serve them well in the years to come.

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18 Comments

Filed under Writing

18 responses to “Kids read the darndest things

  1. Few people are more interesting than those who read widely, so in addition to learning, children (and adults) who read broaden their circles of opportunity. As an avid classics reader like you, I am also sometimes disappointed in the writing coming from today’s students. The old adage that reading is one of the best ways to learn to write is one more benefit of reading.

  2. Now…are they ready for a trip to Richmond to see the Poe Museum, or to UVa to see Poe’s room on the Lawn? :-)

    Very nice post!

  3. Great post! Reading with toddlers is always hilarious. I’ve been thinking a lot about kids’ reading lately – although we’ve got a ways to go; we’re not even up to the “ah-goo” stringing together vowels and consonants yet. I’m glad your nieces/nephews love reading and that they have their own tastes – hope my Peanut is a reader someday too!

  4. Poe is an excellent way to experience language, word choice, and writing. Love it when kids read books and talk about them.

  5. I just finished reading My Side Of The Mountain and The Far Side Of The Mountain and am just starting to read Frightful’s Mountain. They are a great trilogy.

  6. A great post! Our 2 1/2 year old is constantly picking up new words from everywhere! Not all of them are great words either (thanks to grandma’s idea that he can watch anything he wants, including scary movies that have a lot of cussing, not to mention boobs), but it’s always interesting to hear him say a new word in his “I-can’t-pronounce-this-right-because-I-haven’t-trained-my-tongue-to-make-that-sound yet” kind of way.

    Right now, my favorite words to hear him say are “Hello Gobner,” and “I lub you, bunches!” He’s great with “thank you,” but still learning the right moment to say “peez.”

  7. I made sure my son loved reading and words. Thank goodness it stuck with him. I wonder if it’s harder for parents these days with all the electronic gizmos distracting kids (and parents) from reading…

  8. I can’t imagine having a child or grandchild who didn’t love books. That would be very hard to handle, wouldn’t it?

  9. Reminded me of my sister’s days when she was 2 or so and was starting to speak a few words in her own sweet way. She would always end up saying ‘clo-jed’ for Clothes or ‘biksits’ for Biscuits and so on… A sweet post this one is.

    -Asha

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