Most kids learn to read by 6 or 7 years of age. But at just 8, Professor Robert McNees’ daughter already can’t live without it. She even uses literature as a way to revolt against the system. Or at least she thinks so.
You see, the girl likes to pick up a book past her bedtime. Under the covers, with a flashlight. And it’s easy to understand why: both pushing boundaries and a good story can be really exciting. However, both are part of Mr. McNees’ master plan, too.
To Twitter users’ delight, the father unveiled it on the 13th of August.
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Mr. McNees said he would describe his daughter’s personality pretty much the same way a lot of parents would describe their 8-year-olds. “She is outgoing, empathetic, curious, and a little wild sometimes,” the professor told Bored Panda. “She likes chatting with her friends, playing Minecraft, and watching TV shows and movies. Like most kids her age, she is distractible, but when something really gets her attention she’s a laser. And she loves to make things. Sometimes she will just disappear into her room and emerge a few hours later with a handwritten recipe book or an entire dollhouse made of cardboard boxes.”
The little girl started recognizing words when she was about four years old, and has been reading chapter books on her own for the last few years. “We read a lot, on our own and with her, so there are always stacks of books around. Her mom is a writer, which I think contributed to her curiosity about reading,” Mr. McNees explained. “When she did her first book report for school last year it was a Boxcar Children book that her mom wrote; she was so proud.”
However, the father cant say for sure how his daughter learned to read. “It seemed like it happened by osmosis. She would pore over books on her own, sometimes asking for help with words, and we would trace the lines on the page with our finger when reading to her.”
Reacting to the amusing tweet, people started telling their own similar stories
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The parents also had access to lots of books that were visually interesting, age-appropriate, and suited to her reading level. A” lot of the credit for that goes to her grandmother, who has a pretty keen eye for those things. She has sent us more books than I can count and all of them were wonderful.”
“Since the pandemic got underway in March, her big thing has been Harry Potter. She read the third, fourth, and fifth books. We started off reading them together, one chapter per night. But then she’d trudge off to bed with the book under her arm and the next morning she would be three or four chapters ahead of where we left off. So we finally just turned her loose and let her read them on her own. Right now, we are reading the sixth book together, because the story has gotten darker and we want to be able to talk to her about it as things happen. We’ll read a chapter or two before bed, and then she’ll pull out the flashlight and revisit one of the first five books.”
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A few weeks ago, the girl completed “A Wrinkle in Time” with her mom. “She has also read some Boxcar Children books this summer, the first six or seven Babysitters Club books, “Ada Twist and the Perilous Pants” from Andrea Beaty’s Questioneers series, “The Twits” by Roald Dahl, some King Arthur stories, and a bunch of comic books (Teen Titans Go, DC Superhero Girls). She usually has a few Disney story collections and “Princess In Black” books on her top bunk, too.”
As his tweet was going viral, Mr. McNeesI couldn’t keep up with all the responses. “Most of the ones I saw were very sweet notes of appreciation, or folks just now realizing that a parent did the same thing for them. It’s nice seeing book lovers reminisce about how they pulled off their childhood reading capers — I think my favorite was the person who would crawl all the way underneath their bed, where they could read next to a nightlight without being seen.”
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Pamela Paul, the editor of The New York Times Book Review, and Maria Russo, the children’s books editor of The New York Times Book Review, said that in order to raise a reader, a parent must be a reader.
According to the co-authors of How to Raise a Reader, even newborns benefit from hearing stories, and moms and dads should take advantage of that by reading to them out loud, every day, any book. “You can read anything to a newborn: a cookbook, a dystopian novel, a parenting manual. The content doesn’t matter. What does matter is the sound of your voice, the cadence of the text, and the words themselves,” Paul and Russo wrote.
“Research has shown that the number of words an infant is exposed to has a direct impact on language development and literacy. But here’s the catch: The language has to be live, in-person and directed at the child. Turning on a television, or even an audiobook, doesn’t count.”
Babies learn that reading is fun by being read to. It’s as simple as that. They experience it through all the senses: the feel of the pages, the smell of the glue, the visuals of the illustrations as well as the sound of the parent’s voice.
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