The more time I spend with Oliver trying to figure out what he knows the more amazed I become. Amazed isn't even the right word. There is no word big enough to describe what it feels like to "discover" anew this kid who has been by my side practically every day for the past nine and a half years!
It seems that the boy has a photographic memory but I'm still not clear what that means in terms of what he understands about what he is viewing. If you hand Oliver a book and open it to any page he can summarize the content after a mere glance at it. I wondered what kind of texts this would work with so I have given him a variety of things from books of children's poetry to dense children's encyclopedias about dinosaurs. In every case he has been able to summarize or paraphrase what he has seen.
So, why am I only now discovering that my boy can read? It's a question I've been thinking about and trying not to think about for the past couple of weeks. I feel a huge sense of failure for not realizing this sooner. In our homeschooling this year we've focused on the Bob Book series and truthfully I felt so good about Oliver's growing ability to read these. Now I see that his real work wasn't in reading the books, it was in reading them aloud. How frustrating this must have been for him!! His ability to read far exceeds his ability to speak. Even now, once he writes something he cannot usually go back and read aloud what he has written. Speech and decoding written language apparently call on two different parts of the brain. I'm only just beginning to understand this.
I'm also a bit amused and chagrined to think of all the times I wished that Oliver would just sit and look at a book. Many, many times I scolded him for not really looking at a book when I asked him to. I can hear myself now: "Oliver, will you please just look at this book for five minutes while I (insert some inane cleaning activity here)?!" Then I would become frustrated as I watched Oliver flip through a book at the speed of light. He probably wondered why it takes everyone else so LONG to look through a book!