To a Beginning Reader

This post was originally published in 2009.  I am re-publishing it because I am nearing this milestone with my youngest.  I wouldn’t trade this moment — witnessing my own kids’ first encounter with reading — with any teacher in the world.  It’s one of my favorite moments on the homeschooling path. 


Dear Child,

Today you read your first word. It was “at.” You then proceeded to read “am,” “an,” and “ad.”

These are small words as the English language goes — just two letters, and one little syllable each — but you have begun one of the most wonderful journeys that this life has to offer.

Today you haltingly said the sounds, “aaah…tttt.” You struggled to discipline your eyes to stay focused on the dark forms on the page. You listened carefully as I explained what “sounding out” means. You could hardly contain your excitement to become a READER.

Your excitement is childlike as you embrace a skill that you’ve seen your older siblings master. You are eager to follow in their — and your father’s and my — footsteps. You long to be able to decode the words and sentences…the stories that all those brightly-colored books contain. You learned a long time ago that there is more to them than just pretty pictures.

And what of all the books that Mom and Dad read? Why are they so interesting? Most of them don’t even have pictures.

Child, you’re on your way! With the skills you began to develop today, you will read poetry…adventure.. .biography…theology.

You will laugh at the crazy weather in Chewandswallow. You will cross Beacon Street with the ducklings. You will knock on Mr. Badger’s door with the Water Rat and the Mole.

Before long, you will enter the Giant Peach, sticky and giddy with nervous excitement. You will talk to Wilbur in the barn, smelling the hay and the cows’ breath. You will weep for the loss of Old Dan and Little Ann. You will get to explore Narnia alone, without holding Daddy’s hand.

Then you will stretch your muscles some more, and walk a while with Christian in Vanity Fair. You will learn something about “gentlemanly behavior” and virtue from Elizabeth Bennett. You will scratch your head at the beautiful inaction and dilemmas of Hamlet. You will long for a friend like Sam Gamgee.

Most importantly, The Word will unfold to you. You will fearfully rejoice with the Israelites as they eat the Passover supper with their shoes on. You will read of the Word Made Flesh. You will find yourself in Paul’s treatise in Romans 7. You will understand better the promise of God, and how it is YES and AMEN in Christ. Oh, how I pray that the sweeping beautiful epic story of Christ’s love for His Bride embraces you, from the first breath to the wedding banquet. It is all about Him, from Genesis to Revelation.

There is much to see. But today, it began with “at.”

Let the adventure begin.