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Reading for Gifted Children: One Mother’s Story

Reading for Gifted Children: One Mother’s Story

posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - June 10th, 2013

Many parents think that reading for gifted children is different than reading for other children. As the mother of a gifted child, I’d like to share my experience starting with my daughter’s birth — actually, starting a little bit before that!

When we were expecting our daughter we read that it was vitally important to talk, sing and read to your baby before birth. I thought, singing lullabies, talking to your unborn child – that makes perfect sense. I remember thinking, will reading to our baby somehow improve her IQ? If I read her Chaucer, will it sound vaguely familiar in 17 years when she has read it for an English Literature class?

We read in several books and magazines that it is never too early to introduce your child to learning. So began our daughter’s journey into an amazing world of words while I was pregnant with her. I read to her from a variety of sources: everything from newspapers, magazine/online articles, to books on childbirth, children’s book, nursery rhymes, and everything in between. My husband and I talked to our daughter all the time. I vividly remember getting some strange looks in the grocery isle when I read the shopping list out loud. Sometimes I even read the steps of recipes while I was cooking.

After our daughter was born, studies were published showing that babies begin discerning language during the last 10 weeks of gestation. It is nice to know that by the time our daughter came into the world, she had already absorbed a boatload of words!

After she was born, we continued to read a variety of things to her. Thankfully, we were given some classic children’s board books which became some of her favorites as a toddler. We had books made out of cloth with simple rhyming phrases; each page had a different illustration of varying textures. We still had books from our own childhood by Dr. Seuss, Richard Scarry, and Margaret Wise Brown. We read them so much, we memorized the pages! We made weekly library trips together starting when she was an infant. Our neighborhood library had different children’s reading programs for children aged six months and up. It was a great way to expose to her to books, with music, singing, and dancing.

The library became one our favorite places to go together. I discovered so many amazingly creative children’s books authors and illustrators. Among some of our favorites were Nancy Tafuri, Kevin Henkes, Karma Wilson, Doreen Cronin, Bill Martin Jr., Laura Numeroff, and Jane Yolen.

It was a little easier to choose pre-reading, phonics books, and pre- kindergarten books.  When we began to teach our daughter how to read, we watched in awe of how incredibly quickly she was learning to recognize the vowels and sounds.  Her pre-k teacher introduced us to the BOB books.  She finished those and mastered the whole series in just a couple of months. We gave her coloring/activities phonics books to reinforce the different words she was learning.  We bought flashcards for core word sight memorization. I’ll admit these got a little tedious for her; we quickly learned to use them sparingly.

We found the Now I’m Reading book series as she progressed with reading longer sentences.  These were a tremendous hit with her because they had stickers to place in each book after she read independently. Need I say more?!   Around the age of three and four, our daughter began to express interest in choosing her own books (with a little bit of guidance). These usually involved the latest in a series with some of her favorite characters. The summer before first grade, she was fascinated with mysteries.  She read the entire A to Z Mysteries and Capital Mysteries by Ron Roy.  She loved telling me about the how the three young characters in these books solved the crime.

To this day, I ask open ended questions about what she read.  Her wonderful kindergarten teacher encouraged my husband and me to ask how, what, when, if, and why questions about the content of a book with her.  Our daughter began reading by herself at least twenty minutes every day.  I also continued to read aloud with her daily.  In the first grade, she began reading her favorite two series of books that featured cartoon characters. I remember being a little concerned that she wasn’t interested in reading regular chapter books. It became a balancing act during our trips to the library. I asked her to pick out a different genre for every cartoon series book she read.

Thankfully, her second grade teacher had them plan a reading “diet” chart to include all genres in their reading choices. Our daughter discovered she enjoyed reading about the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and historical fiction series books. The summer before third grade, she read several books about Anne Frank. Her current fascination is anything topic regarding Greek Mythology. Now, input from peers regarding their book reviews has some more credibility than Mom’s. This has also helped her become an avid advanced reader with diverse book choices in her “diet menu”.

Looking back, some of my worries about her becoming a well-rounded reader were futile. We provided her with the love of books, stories, and reading. We continue to be involved in nurturing our daughter’s love of reading, but more at arm’s length. This is the ultimate gift we could ever give her!

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