A Little Editorial…

Today I had the privilege of “bookworming” with young Taylor. We didn’t get very far into the book before it became clear that she is a very good reader! So it seemed strange that she would occasionally stop dead in the middle of a page.

I usually restrain myself from being quick to help so I got to watch her brow furrow and I could almost feel the concentration as she stared at the words. Then she’d proclaim, “That’s NOT right.”

When I’d look at where she’d stopped it was immediately obvious she was correct. I’m told that it’s not unusual for kids’ books to use dialect in the interest of “realism.” In Taylor’s chosen book one of the characters would occasionally use what we might kindly call “casual language.” He might for example, leave out a word or apply an expression that didn’t necessarily correctly fit.  That’s what stopped her. He wasn’t speaking correctly.

She wasn’t reading words–she was reading meaning. The character’s poor grammar was actually hiding the meaning from her. I don’t know if they give out gold stars in school anymore but I wished I had one to give her. They call that comprehension, right?!

Being something of a grammar nut I enjoyed analyzing the words with her to determine what was wrong and what the character actually meant.

Now we could debate the relative merits of this brand of “realism” in kids’ books but that’s for another day. I suppose we can allow that the end justifies the means, although my old-fashioned mind found it a bit odd that we discussed good grammar as a result of reading bad.

Today was a reminder that sometimes the words interfere with the meaning. But it was also a demonstration of the power of modeling. I gather Taylor wasn’t expecting to encounter bad grammar. She didn’t say, “that’s the way people talk.” She said, “That’s NOT right!”

In a time when we too often expect mediocrity in so many aspects of our lives,  isn’t it great that Taylor had trouble recognizing and understanding something because it wasn’t right?