By Josiah Reid
Josiah Reid is a partner at the law firm of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP. His practice focuses primarily on commercial real estate finance, acquisition, development and leasing.
In her first months she could not comprehend what we were doing. She heard the sound of our voice. She did not understand our words were coming from a page.
When she became mobile, keeping her still long enough to read even the shortest children’s book became difficult. We kept at it. She started to enjoy the pictures. Especially books with interactive pages. Then she started to mimic words we read to her. Two syllables might slur into one. Consonants were difficult. But she wanted to repeat what she heard.
At first maybe she was just repeating sounds. Eventually she started to understand the sounds described things depicted in the book: a dog, an elephant, a monkey, a car.
Reading with consistency eventually created an expectation in our daughter that reading would be part of each day. She started to ask to read books. She would take them from the shelf and bring them to us.
We also used the books as a means to teach the alphabet and phonetics. She learned numbers too.
Eventually, our daughter started to understand words we were reading could describe not just objects but also concepts – emotions, size, speed, temperature. She ascribed those concepts to things around her and related them back to a book we read. She was mad like a character in a story. The car was fast just like the one in a book.
As she has grown, the books we read have become longer and more complex. They have more words. She understands and enjoys dialogue and narrative as distinguished from just words and pictures.
Her ability to process and retain information has grown. She finishes sentences in books we have previously read – sometimes only once or twice. She can recite some books nearly verbatim in their entirety.
Maybe most important: reading to our daughter has taught her what reading is and why it is meaningful. She cannot read yet. But she already loves it. And this will be a motivator for her to learn how to read, and, once she has learned, to keep reading. And if she keeps reading, she will keep learning and in so doing become a better person. That is why we read to her every day.