Her big brother was an early and prolific reader who lovingly passed down his collection of Dr. Seuss books once he got too cool for them. But when she was in preschool, she didn't seem to like the books very much. As a matter of fact, this is a little hard to admit, but she hated them. She'd take her little hands and try to turn the pages before I could finish reading them so we could just be done, and sometimes she'd just bat the whole book out of my hands altogether and insist we do something else. "One fish, two fish, red fish blue ---" and we were finished.
But I loved the books, dang it! Plus we owned almost every single one, and they made me happy, because I remembered reading them when I was little myself, and I had such fond memories of reading them to my son. So I wasn't going to give up. I tried to make it fun. "Hop on...Hey, what rhymes with 'hop'?" I'd ask her. She'd look at me like I was from Mars. "Um...Jump?" No, I'd correct her. RHYMES. Not "what's the same thing as hop," but what word SOUNDS like "hop"? Sounds like...You know what I mean? Like, take "HOP," but say it without the "H" sound... put another letter there, like "M". Get it? As I began to get exasperated, she looked at me with hurt in her eyes, like she wanted to cry.
That's when I began to realize something wasn't right. Because it wasn't just the rhyming thing. She also could not sing the ABC song. My other kid could do that before he was 3, and she was going on 5. The clincher was when I noticed she couldn't remember the name of the letter "M," the first letter in her name, which she'd been practicing writing every day in preschool for almost 2 years. This is a kid who, up until this point, regularly did things that prompted several friends and family members to whisper, "Wow, she's really smart." It was terribly confusing. So I did what I usually do when I become anxious: I turned to Google. "Trouble rhyming," I typed.
The first thing that came up was the website for the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity. There was a section about the warning signs for dyslexia in preschoolers. It said that trouble learning common nursery rhymes, such as “Jack and Jill,” and difficulty recognizing rhyming patterns like "cat, bat, rat," are big red flags. My heart dropped into my chest, and the next day I decided to raise the issue with her preschool teacher who confessed that she'd started to become concerned as well. And that's how it all began. A private evaluation revealed that "M" had dyslexia, and we set down the path of finding the specific type of reading instruction she needed.
So I would like to say "thank you" to Dr. Seuss. Thank you for those wonderful books that turned my son and me into first-time readers. But most of all, thank you for all the wonderful rhymes that were completely lost on my daughter. Because of them, she's a reader now.