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I Don’t Know That Word!

by Maureen Slamer

I Don’t Know That Word!

“I know it’s in here,” Marek muttered to himself pushing through his bulging backpack. “I stuck it in here.  I know I did.”

Marek’s granny tried to help.  “What if we took some of those papers out?” she suggested.

“I got this, Granny.  I don’t need your help.  Stupid book!”

Granny let it go.  Marek always needed some space after school.  “Snack time!” Granny announced moving toward the kitchen table, veggie straws and glasses of spicy lemonade in her hands. Marek darted for the table, the missing book in his hands.

“I got homework, Granny!” 

“We can do it after snack while I make dinner.”

“No Granny, you got to listen.  My dumb homework is to read this book.  I already read it at school.”  Marek shoved the book across the table.  His Granny picked up the book and glanced through the pages. 

“This looks like a good book!  I can’t wait to hear it.”  Granny smiled.

Marek finished his snack and helped clear the table.  He scrambled into Granny’s chair.  “Dinner can wait, can’t it? Homework first, right?”

Granny smiled, amazed at how her words came back to haunt her.  “Absolutely.”

Marek read the title and then turned to the first page and began to read.  He stopped. He stared.  He waited.  “I don’t know that word.”  He tapped the page.

Granny waited.  “Let’s think. What could you try?” Marek stared; his brow wrinkled.  “I wonder if the picture will help?”

“He’s building something…” Marek whispered.

“I think you are right.  He is building something,” Granny replied.

“It’s kinda like a tall castle.” Marek nodded.

“Let’s read that together from the beginning.  I built a …” Marek pointed to the word.  Granny waited.  

“Can you start that word?  Make that first sound of that word?”  Granny prompted.

Marek frowned, “t, t, t, t…tower.  It’s a tower!”  Marek beamed.

“Read it from the beginning.” 

Marek read slowly, “I built a tower.”

“Does tower make sense with the story?”  Granny asked. Marek nodded and continued reading. 

Marek closed the book, “You’re right Granny!  It was a good book!”

Granny hugged him tightly.  “You are such a good reader, Marek.  You figured out that tricky word.  I noticed you looked at the picture, thought about the story, and then made that first sound ‘t.’  You made sure tower made sense with the story.  That’s what readers do when they get stuck.”

The Lift the Beginning Reader Might Need

Little ones love to be independent and to do for themselves.  Once in a while they may need some help along the way.  You are providing the lift they need by waiting and reminding them what they already know how to do.  Early readers gain meaning from the pictures.  They help to provide the child with possibilities of what the tricky word could be.   Noticing what your child does to solve the word by themselves, using the picture and first letters of the word, may provide just the right amount of lift for success.

• Be patient, give time for young readers to think and problem solve.

• Encourage young readers to check the picture for clues.

• Keep your child reading, sometimes just providing the tricky word is the lift they need.

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