Mrs. M, hi were you aware how slow your daughter reads?” Looking back at the computer teacher I smile and say, “Yes I do. The doll had a speech impediment when she was younger and has a hard time understanding where vowels come in…so she reads extremely slow, sounding out the words so they make sense to her…” I explain. “Oh, okay, I just wanted to make sure you were aware of the issue. It takes her forever to take tests…because she’s reading so slow…” “Slow and steady win the race right?” I replied before we parted company. Though I didn’t convey it to the teacher at the time, I was really worried about the doll’s reading skills at the time…and wondered if she would improve with time.

*Last Friday the doll called me while I was at work. The following is our telephone coversation…*

“Hi Mom!” the doll says into the phone receiver. “Hi Doll!” I reply. “Guess what?” She asks. “What?” “So, okay, we got our report cards to day.” “Uh oh, are you trying to give me bad news?” I say with a hint of snark in my voice. “Well….” she drawls out, “I got second honors…” “Hmm, you had me worried there for a moment…” I say and hear her giggle into the telephone receiver. “And…guess what else?” “Dear God doll you’re trying to kill your old mom with all these guessing games…” I said before adding, “I can’t imagine what…” She guffaws into the receiver and then adds, “Well when they made afternoon announcements, they said aloud the number of students who made their AR (Accelerated Reader) goals for the week.” 

      The accelerated reader program is run through schools and libraries which tests students comprehension of the books they’ve recently read. In doing so, they award points for all passed tests. The harder the book, the higher the awards. When the doll was in fourth grade, her AR total for the year was 45 and she didn’t make it. In fact she used to argue with me over taking the tests she thought were stupid. 

“Really? Where did you land?” I asked. Over the winter break she’s been quite the prolific reader. “I made my goal for the quarter” she added. “The quarter? What was your goal?” I asked, surprised. “100” she replied nonchalantly before adding, “But that’s not the best part….” She leads me. “No?” “Nope.” she replied again. Sitting in silence at the other end of a telephone receiver I say, “Doll..don’t leave me hanging here….” Which makes her laugh. “Mom, they said I was the fastest kid ever to reach their AR goal for the quarter….AND I actually have the highest score of 200 in the school”. She says with a very proud voice. “Oh my goodness Doll, I’m so proud of you….” As I send accolades to her over the phone I am immediately transported back to the summer leading into her 5th grade year…

    We are walking around inside my dad’s pool talking about summer and reading. “Mom I really don’t like to read. I mean really what’s the point?” “Doll all you need is to find a good story that captures your heart…” I explain. “Nope, Mom, not going to happen.” As I continue wading through the water I say, “Hey, I have an idea, why not you and I read something together? How about The Hunger Games? They say that’s a really good book.” She’s not happy but agreed and a short time later we begin to read the series together. We began by rotating chapters…but on average I end up reading most of it aloud to her. Excited by the turn of events in the story we rush out to find a used copy of the second book, Catching Fire. Once again we begin alternating the chapters, but like before I begin reading more than she. After she goes to bed one evening, I picked up the book and finished it. “Mom, that’s not fair…you better not read the next book without me” “Sorry doll, I already am ten chapters in.” Unhappy, but still wanting to know how the story ends, she picked up the book and began to read. She’s been picking up books ever since and I’m so happy for her. 

“Plus guess what?” she adds. “There’s more good news?” I say with a smile on my face. “I finished the book I was reading and now I’m reading Harry Potter”. “Cool, you know your Grammy has all those books I think…” I add. “Huh, well I got this one from the library at school….and so far its good…but I’m only on the fifth chapter…” “Whatever doll. Keep taking those AR tests…see how high you score, Kay?” “Oh I know Mom, I kind of liked hearing them say I was the top reader in the school…” “Cool” I return before we mutually hang up the phones. 

When I came home from work she informed me she was now on chapter 15. Way to go doll!


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