I decided to do a quick review of letters and their sounds (in French) with Noah today. A friend graciously let me borrow indefinitely two sets of sandpaper letters, one upper case and one lower case, which I will use more regularly with Leila. But I had hoped to zip through the letters with Noah this afternoon so we could propel ourselves toward reading next week.

Unfortunately, as we took them out of the box, he struggled with the majority of them. Chalk that up to summer vacation? Or to being too tired from the day’s earlier activity, which was this?



In any case, we’ll have to review them again tomorrow; but for today, I simply asked him to trace the letters as I made their sounds and he put them back into the box. When all the sandpaper letters were back in their box, he was silent for a minute before looking at me with a frown and saying, “I lost some skin.”

So, yeah, I don’t recommend asking your child to trace an entire alphabet of sandpaper letters in one sitting. It hurts.

Another thing that hurts is fiercely gripping the handles of a tube while you’re being pulled behind a boat, whipping around in a circle with water spraying in your face. That was also on the agenda for today. Significantly more fun than sandpaper letters, although—as I pointed out to Noah—he’ll never be able to drive such a boat if he doesn’t learn to read. In French and in English. So let’s go!

I joke with him, but the kid is dying to read. It’s pretty exciting to see that inner battle working itself out: he doesn’t want to stay put and take the time to learn phonetics, but he so wants to read. It reminds me of a comment he made in preschool. He declared that he wanted to be an astronaut, but first he needed to learn how to read so that he would know which buttons to push in the spaceship. Such a logical boy.

I plan to attack this much like I did with Zahra: by learning sounds and then writing words, and then short sentences, on paper. Bob books, as well as most learning-to-read material, is mind-numbingly BORING. Noah did read some Bob books in preschool but quickly abandoned them. There’s really no motivation to read to the end to find out that Dot and Mat have a cat. Much more fun to write the sentence, “Cats dance under the moon,” and watch him figure that out.

What are your favourite books for beginning readers?