Captain Science was an early reader.
He knew all his letters, upper and lower case, by 18 months and recognized that they went together in a pattern, and that the pattern meant something. He started reading shortly after he turned two. I actually doubted the accuracy of my memory of this, so I looked back through pictures and found one of him and Nana sitting on the sofa shortly after his second birthday, playing their word games on the Magnadoodle. She would write words and he would read them. It started with simple words like cat and hat, but I remember that these particular pictures were taken on the day she wrote–and he could differentiate between–worm, work, and word. It was slightly more than a week after his second birthday. By three, he could recognize or sound out most words. He could pick up nearly any book in the house and read it by four.
Reading is still one of his favorite pastimes. It’s his refuge and escape when he’s stressed. At times, it’s his compulsion — he’s the kid who has to read it if it’s there. Cereal boxes, junk mail, my computer screen if he’s nearby (I have to be careful!), cookbooks. I understand that compulsion well, because it’s one I share with him. I can’t not read, either.
I sometimes wonder why he took so naturally to reading. While there’s no denying that he’s a very gifted child, giftedness doesn’t always manifest as early reading (and early reading doesn’t necessarily indicate giftedness). Sometimes I imagine that a love of reading is like a nutrient, and it passed to him in utero through the umbilical cord or he drank it in when he nursed, like feeding the trained planaria to the untrained ones and having the untrained ones know how to run the mazes. Only not gross like that.
It might be because he saw reading all around him and absorbed it through some strange sort of literary osmosis. I would read while I nursed him, read whenever I had a spare moment. I read to him, Nana read to him, and the Granny Brigade (an assortment of great and great-great grandmothers and great-great aunties) read to him. My room has always been filled with stacks of books. I stick them everywhere, on the off chance that I’ll need something to read while I’m in that particular room. We have kitchen books, office books, a stack of bathroom books underneath the sink, bedroom books, basement books, and even a few car books, which I don’t read while driving, of course.
We’ve had to take his book light away, because he was staying up until the wee hours reading (and was a bear as a result). We have to check his room often for boys awake at 11pm, crouching by the door to have enough light to read. We have to police the number of bathroom trips after 10, because they’re to read, not to tinkle.
That’s a wonderful “problem” to have, isn’t it?