I summoned the nerve to utter that question to her first grade teacher. Her answer: “Well, lots of people can’t read and most don’t have her excuse. They learn to compensate, and she will too, if she never learns to read.” Never learns to read? Baloney macaroni, not on my watch, I resolved.
Reading is the key to learning. Reading opens the whole world of possibilities to us. Reading is joyful. In our family, it’s mandatory. Come hell or high water, my kid’s gonna learn to read!
So, reading became a top goal on every IEP. We tried every method known to man. Year after year through elementary, middle and high school, committed teachers, tutors, and family persevered.
Still, one of my great fears for her came to be. Noni cannot read.
And it’s okay, mom.
Like others who cannot read, she learned to compensate. She can recognize many words as visuals, or snapshots, to decipher meaning.
She looks at pictures on a menu, for example, to decide what to order. If french fries are on the menu, she wants ’em. She sorts mail at home because she knows what our names look like, and she’s always excited when she gets mail.
And then we were in for one more surprise.
By high school, we changed her IEP goal from learning to read to learning the love of books. Each day, a student would give up a study hall to spend the time with Noni in the media center, looking through books and magazines appealing to teens. She was hooked, and she could do it on her own.
Today she enjoys paging through coffee table books, magazines, photo albums and, her personal favorite, dictionaries with pictures. She has given new definition to the concept of reading.
It works for her, and mom too.