It wasn’t that long ago, really, that Kina was sounding out the word DOG, which I totally freaked out over. She’s come a long way, and as an avid reader, I’m still freaking out, I suppose.
I started putting the Young Reader’s Section at the bottom of the page back in May, mostly because I was tired of coming up with four headlines every day—but also because Kina had been asking me for months what I was writing about, and it felt only fair that I give her a word or three of her own to read every day.
For a long time, she would get frustrated when she couldn’t figure out how to read the word of the day, and so I really leaned into the drawings in that section, but she eventually got the hang of sounding out the syllables, and we would have a little dance party by the table in the living room whenever she figured out the day’s puzzle.
I try never to repeat a headline in this newspaper, which is difficult enough when you’re quoting a little kid for six hundred and fifty days straight, but it gets much harder when you’re trying to scramble for a new word that same little kid can hopefully manage to sound out on her own. I’ve used BELLY more than once1, MAP on several occasions, KITTY and CAT repeatedly (and obviously). I should have known that I used STINKY so recently; Kina certainly remembered, and she insisted I make a last-minute edit.
So, today’s word is SLEEPY, which she was pleased to finally unlock, along with all the words in They Get Wet—a Peppa Pig phonics story that explores all the wonders of the short /ĕ/ vowel, and of the various ways in which Peppa’s family can have their dry clothes ruined. Grampy Rabbit has a particularly tough time, but I can assure you that it all ends well.
I’m glad Kina’s in school these days, because I get to see her come home every day with some radical new skill or vowel mastery. Reading is such a huge milestone for me to see in her. Even when she was small, I would read huge stacks of books to her before putting her down to bed. I remember reading Little Owl’s Night to Kina when she was barely a year old; her involvement in that book was constrained to kissing the owl on one of her favorite pages, every day, until the page got sticky and began to peel.
Now that she can sound bits of the book out herself, I feel like we’ve unpacked a part of her life that will help Kina discover more about the world, and about herself, than she was ever capable of before; reading has made me whole so many times in my life, when I’ve needed to be made whole. Kina knows there’s something in a book that she can discover without even needing to ask. Instead of having to pick for answers from me, she can wander in her discovery.
There are twelve linear feet of children’s books in this house, and a whole collection of stories I’ve been waiting to hand to her. I know it’s just Peppa Pig today, but the Young Reader’s Section of this house is huge, and it’s happy to meet Kina, who is very very SLEEPY tonight, and already dressed for tomorrow.
In trying to find the second instance of BELLY, I managed to find it in an edition I forgot to write a newsletter for, whose headline was “PITEOUS ORPHAN MUST BE FED BY HAND”. We regret the omission. I was probably SLEEPY.