Reading to Myself



He said it so off-hand. That’s what made it so profound for me, actually. Those simple little words: “I was reading to myself.”




Let me remind you for just a second that, as a preschooler, A. was labeled “profoundly delayed.” The fact that he didn’t speak– and I mean didn’t speak AT ALL– until nearly three years old was at the crux of that. We can argue about the benefits and limitations of such labels all day long but, no matter what you think about it, that’s what the paperwork said.


Of course, once A. figured out how to talk, it was an odd process to get to fluency. It’s not that he lacked any sounds or vocabulary– it’s that he would TALK like he was READING. He would sound out each and every letter— cuh-uh-puh. Cup. It was sometimes tempting to just go back to sign language because it was so much faster, but we were so darn thrilled he was speaking, we patiently waited through his painstakingly slow sentences.


Eventually, he got much faster and smoother and, about that time, he started reading anything and everything to us. He’d pick up a book, magazine, article, cereal box, WHATEVER and read it. I’m not talking about simple board books or familiar stories here– I’m talking about technical magazines and full-length novels.


At 3.


Mere months after uttering his very first word.


Interesting, right?


And it was. Honestly, we still weren’t going all nuts about it because we were still working to catch up on the areas where he’d been found lacking.


So, that was then and this is now. He’s ten now, and, realistically, pretty much every one of his peers is a competent reader at this point. Sure, they have different reading levels and interests and proficiencies, but reading is certainly nothing uncommon in 4th grade.


The other day, we were, again, joking about how incredibly talkative A. is and how funny that is, given his start. Then we recalled how he started reading well before 3 1/2.


I smiled at my boy, “It was so funny, A, because you didn’t even talk until you were three and then– boom!– you started reading!”


He looked up at me, a curious look on his face.


“You mean reading out loud?”


“Well, yes,” I replied. It seemed an odd thing to ask.


And then he added, in the most off-hand way…


“Before I could talk, I was just reading to myself.”


* * * * *


My mind was blown.


I had never even considered that possibility.


But… it makes sense.


And, if it’s true, can you imagine???


I’ve said it before and I”ll say it again– raising this kiddo is a fun and crazy ride.

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2 comments to Reading to Myself

  • Susan

    so amazing when you have a gifted child like A. Mine started reading 3-4 letter words in preschool & we thought he was advanced (he was just normal.) As a toddler, mine was very proficient in sign language, his favorite sign “no more” since he pretty much hating eating food!

  • Sarah

    That is EXACTLY what happened with my now 7 year old. He had no words, no sounds, no nothing until well after 2 1/2. Despite months of speech therapy, despite all our attempts, nothing. Then around 2 3/4 or so he started talking, painfully slowly, almost phonetically as if he were sounding out words and he was really, really hard to understand. Then he was reading grocery lists, store signs, food packages, magazines, etc. just before turning 3. I vividly remember asking him how he knew what a store sign said around that time and he said, “I just read it, Mama. I’ve always just read.” Well. Ok then.

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