There was a momentous occasion in our household this week, as one of my daughters brought home her first reading book. She was very excited, proud and giddy about the whole thing. I was also very excited, proud and a little bit giddy listening to her read it.
In order to get to this significant point, she had a book of words which was full of some of the basics needed to help children start to learn to read. You know the sort of thing: at, it, if, cat, dog, etc. Once the children have built up a reasonable vocabulary they progress onto using these words in sentences, and then books. My other daughter is still at the first stage, and I was sitting with her last week going through some of the words she had been given.
I hadn’t read these through before hand as I didn’t think it was necessary. I wasn’t really expecting to find anything untoward amongst the gets and gots, when suddenly my daughter read out ‘p-u-b; pub.’ ‘Very good’, I replied. I didn’t really take in what she had said to start with but, as she carried on reading, it suddenly dawned on me what she had said. My first reaction was that there must be another definition of pub. One that had passed me by or I had forgotten about. When we had finished her list of words, I got out my dictionary and looked up ‘pub’. There was only one definition.
My understanding of giving children these word books is to give them simple words that occur regularly in English. The stories in their first reading books are written around these words. The fact that my daughter was being taught the word ‘pub’ makes me anxious. Why would four year olds need to know this word? What on earth are the plots in their reading books? I hope it isn’t something about a little person meeting an array of unsavoury characters whilst waiting outside the pub for his inebriated parents. The Peter and Jane books I learnt to read with certainly didn’t have this sort of storyline. Whatever next? I’m now fully expecting to see the letters ‘b-e-e-r’ anytime soon.