RCOstaff@rcowen.com 914-232-3903 or 800-262-0787
But the Words Are Bigger

by Maureen Slamer

But the Words Are Bigger

“Where’s your Friday Folder, Dante?”  Dad asked as Dante scrambled into the car after school. 

“I remembered it, Dad.  I only forgot it a couple times on your weekend!”  Dante muttered.

“I am glad you remembered it.  What did you do today?”  Dad questioned as he negotiated parent pickup.


“Nothing?  Isn’t Friday gym and library?”  Dad probed. 

“Yeah, gym was okay.  We went to the library, there was a sub.  She didn’t let us check out books!”

“Oh, hmmm…that’s too bad.  What did Mrs. Ellis do?”  Dad pumped, wondering if he needed to make a call.

“Mrs. Ellis let us shop for books in the classroom.  I have one in my Friday Folder.  I didn’t get to read it.  I have to bring it back on Monday.  It has big words.”

“Let’s read it when we get home,” Dad suggested.

As Dad pulled in the driveway, Dante’s friend Malik ran down the sidewalk.  “You ready?”  He called. 

Dante glanced at his dad.  “Malik wants to play ball, can I?  It’s only till dinner,” Dante pleaded.  Dad grinned and nodded as the two boys raced behind the house. 

Dad hefted Dante’s backpack and his briefcase.  What does that boy put in this backpack?  Dad wondered as he went to start dinner.  After dinner Dante grabbed his backpack and fished out his Friday Folder.  “Mrs. Ellis said I had to read as many times as I am old and to use my strategies with this book.  I didn’t even read it first at school.  So we might have to call Nana and Papa this weekend.  Oh, and I have to write down everyone I read to,” Dante declared. 

Dad looked puzzled, “Ok, we haven’t done this before.  What do I do?”

“Dad, it’s simple.  You listen and if I need help, I’ll tell you,” Dante explained as he climbed into the recliner next to his dad.  Dante opened the book and began to flip through the pages and then began to read.

“I don’t know that word.”  Dante glanced up.

“Hmm…what can you do?” Dad asked and waited.

“Mrs. Ellis said I have to use my strategies.  I look at the picture.  Those are pigs.  I hafta make the first sounds.  And I hafta find little words in the big words.  Mrs. Ellis said to make sure it makes sense with the story.  AND she said she knows I can do it!”  Dante sat and stared at the picture. 

“Whoa!” Dad said and waited.

Pigs…st…st…Ohhh, there’s and.  St…and, stand!  I got it!  Pigs stand.  That makes sense, pigs can stand.  This book’s all about pigs,” Dante said proudly.

“Dante, you figured out that word!”  Dad exclaimed, smiling.  Dante read on. 

“Dad, look at this!  This pig’s dancing.  I didn’t know pigs could do that!  Did you know that, Dad?  That’s so funny!  Oh, look at this page.  Is that pig itching?  Pigs s…scr…at…ch.  Oh, I get it!  Pigs scratch.  Dad, is he using that tree to itch himself?  Wouldn’t that hurt?”

As he finished the book, Dante looked up,  “Dad, this book was sooo cool!  Did you see those two pigs racing?  They were kissing!  Let’s read it again!  But you can only sign my sheet in my folder one time.  I have to read it five more times.  If I call Nana and Papa, that will be two more.  Who else can I call?”

Author: Rhonda Cox


Unlocking the Meaning


Don’t think the words in Pigs Peek are big?  Put yourself in Dante’s shoes.  Our kiddos need time to practice — no matter how big or small the words.  In school they are taught strategies or procedures to use when they meet a word they don’t know and are challenged to make that unknown word make sense with the story they are reading.  These strategies serve a purpose — to help unlock the meaning in the story or book.  Dante was challenged by some of the words.  When he encountered a word he did not know, he did the list he was taught (Look at the picture.  Make the first sounds.  Find little words in the big words.  Make sure it makes sense with the story.) so he could unlock the meaning of the page.  As when we first learn anything new, the routine or the route to success remains the same until it is cemented and becomes automatic.  Allowing our children time to rehearse the strategies or routines when they are challenged is critical.  As they gain confidence, they will begin to learn to choose the strategy that will work the most efficiently for them to help them unlock the meaning from the book they are reading.

Share this: