Okay, it’s time to be honest. I will admit freely to my addiction…. I am a word junkie. I love words. It may drive my family crazy as they are constantly stopping me to ask the meaning of a word I have just used, but I can’t help it. I love the sound of words, I love the look of words and most of all I love the immense power of words. Nowhere is that more obvious than in my almost three year old.
We have been reading to the boy since he was a baby. Yes, I was one of those crazy mothers read to my three month old, in fact I read to him when he was a newborn and when he was still in the womb. I choose to believe that the cadence of language is a powerful tool in the development of a child. I also choose to believe that my son’s fascination with words is a product of that attention. How else would he have known all his letters at 18 months with prompting from me? And, now at nearly three he is starting to write many of those letters. Currently, most of his art work centers around his ability to draw the letter ‘A’. The love of language is strong in this child, yet, he still manages to surprise me.
We have a new favorite book (and, really, a new favorite author). Unfortunately it’s out of print and our only access to it is at the library (hint to Sheree Fitch’s publisher, please reprint this book, I will buy it for all my friend’s kids!). We are reading Sleeping Dragons All Around by Sheree Fitch. It really is the most amazing book not only in terms of it’s plot but in the cadence of the language, in the artwork and most especially in the choice of words. Fitch rhymes infinitesimal with decimal and uses words like ancestral and magestical. Not your average children’s book fare but so much more fun to read! She also uses my son’s new favorite word – Gargantuan.
The word only appears once in the story yet, the other night, after reading the book and while I was singing him to sleep, I heard him talking quietly to himself. He was working out the syllables of the word to himself. I found him counting them out on his fingers – gar-gan-tu-an. Yes, that’s right, my son is using a four syllable word, without any prompting from me. After the song was done we talked about the word and what it means. We talked about things that were big and things that were small. We talked about the concept of big and really big and about things that were gargantuan.
It truly was a conversation I never expected to have with a two year old but I think that’s part of what I love so much about words. One word from one story has opened up whole new ideas for my boy. I think that’s pretty amazing and so, the piles of children’s books that litter my house will keep getting bigger (maybe even reach gargantuan proportions) and someday I’ll find a copy of Sleeping Dragons of my very own. I’ll read to kids and grand kids who visit my home because of power of the words in that book is infinitesimal.
I’m on the hunt for more books that use language on this level. My son is lapping it up (and so am I). Any suggestions for other books I could be reading the boy are welcome!