I'll Read When I Want To
Parents of gifted children usually have a story or two associated with reading. Some children begin to read at a very young age; others refuse to read at all until they can do it well. I had one of each. At 4, my younger son would get up, get dressed, brush his teeth and his hair, make his bed, and appear at the breakfast table ready to read the sports section of the newspaper to see how his baseball team had done the night before. Then he would trot off to kindergarten! This child could read the scores, the scouting reports, the injury reports, but did not want to read about Dick and Spot and Jane. He never read again for pleasure until he was about 12 years old and discovered Shakespeare. This non-reading gifted child with the phenomenal ability to read and comprehend went on to become an Honors English major at a prestigious New England college. Go figure.
His older brother, on the other hand, was not reading before he began kindergarten, or even first grade – at least not to our knowledge. His teachers thought he was reading, but we knew that he was tricking them into reading something once and then remembering it – verbatim. If he had never heard a book, he couldn’t “read” it. Then suddenly, during the summer before second grade, he won a trophy at our local library for reading more books than any other child in the area. We had found what motivated him – competition. He was off and there was no stopping him. He consumed books – both fiction and non-fiction – at an alarming rate. By the time he was in third grade, he was reading at a college level.
These kids do not follow any prescribed pattern in their reading development. Some read at a young age and continue to progress at a normal speed. Some begin reading at a young age and fly through the literature available to them and get bored. Some learn to read at a later age but catch up and zoom past everyone else. There really is no predicting. Just jump aboard and enjoy the ride.