Language is such a beautiful art. I can remember years ago when my babies were first learning to speak. They started of with a few simple words, nouns at first. They added in verbs later. We had a sweet little routine every night where we would hold a boys hands and help him jump in his crib while singing the “Jump” song. There was only one word in the “Jump” song. Can you guess what it was? That one word song very simply illustrated the definition of a typical early word for children. Do children know what it is to jump before you define the word for them? Probably not. They might figure out the action, but if you aren’t speaking to your child, how much are you really doing with the child at all?
So there were my babies, learning to speak. I found that my boys would make a big leap in development and then practice their new skills for a while before making another big jump. They progressed this way for quite a long time until I just didn’t notice it anymore. They were reading and speaking and having the conversations that five-year olds have. All was well within my little mommy world. And then I went and screwed it up by deciding that I simply had to read “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”” to them. I had thought their vocabularies were massive. I had been positive my children were geniuses. They’re still geniuses, but their vocabularies have not been enlarged by mandatory dictionary reading. And apparently, I use a limited vocabulary with my children.
We had started reading “Harry Potter” and I quickly realized that I would have to define many, many words, but the verb, the verbs have to be acted out. Verbs get harder to act out after you pass the common ones. Jump, walk, run, dance. I can act out all of those. Limp and stagger get to be a little fun. Have you ever tried to limp when you don’t actually have a sore leg? It can be hard to get your brain wired to limp correctly. Marching away from someone with one’s nose in the air? Loads of fun! After I demonstrate the new action, munchkins feel it necessary to model the new action at least a dozen times each. We also have to discuss why someone might use a particular action.
All of this new vocabulary makes for very slow reading, but speeding through a book isn’t really the point.