“Mom, I know LOTS of words.”

He might not know the word “epiphany” yet, but my 5-year old son just had a pretty big moment of enlightenment. As a parent, I am glowing unabashedly right now. I have just witnessed my little boy turn one more corner, sprinting down the path from toddlerhood, and racing toward the elementary school adventures of the “Big Kids.”

My son’s second half of kindergarten is in full swing. So far this year, I have seen his progress as he forms the shapes of capital F’s and lowercase J’s with his little fingers while clutching an oversized pencil. We do homework together, and I’ve watched as he has begun to master phonetics and “context clues”, carefully choosing between the words “see” and “look” when completing the sentence “I can ____ the bird.”

Kindergarten Homework
Kindergarten Homework










I’ve always made a point of reading to my son and his little sister most evenings as part of their bedtime routine. However, at the moment, his school is participating in a RIF reading challenge, and we have been asked to read for 200 minutes over the course of the two-week challenge.

As part of this challenge, I decided to step up the game a bit. This week, we would let my son try to read by himself, and I would help him along. Honestly, I thought this would be a futile exercise: before the end of the first page his frustration would peak, and I would jump in to finish the story before the book got thrown on the floor.


Kids Books
My Children's Little Library

To my surprise, though, my little boy was fully up to the task! He picked out one of his favorite books, from the Jon Scieszka’s, “Trucktown” series, and he began to read, by himself! Granted, he is familiar with the story. The vocabulary is great for a 5-year old boy, with exclamations like “Smash!” “Crash!” and “Splash!” repeated on nearly every page.

But, he wasn’t merely repeating the story from memory, he was reading! Some words were tougher than others, and we sounded them out together. He laughed and told me it was silly that the ‘g’ and ‘h’ in the word “high” are silent. He got frustrated once or twice with words that had a few syllables, but he did not give up. He read every word.

I studied him as he read, watching the synapses connect in his brain as he sounded out each letter. He shouted the word once he put the sounds together. ” No luck. Max is S-T-U-C-K. … STUCK!!!!!”

Clearly my son’s teachers are doing a great job, and I thank them for that. My son seems to be living up to his end of the bargain too. I knew this day would come, and that he would learn to read. It’s not an epic event on a global scale, but it’s a fairly big deal in my house. My husband and I could not be more proud.

After the 20-minute reading session, I smothered him with praise and plenty of High-Fives. On the other hand, he was very nonchalant about the whole thing. With supreme confidence he simply reminded me: “Mom, I know lots of words.”


147 thoughts on ““Mom, I know LOTS of words.”

  1. So cool…

    If you really want to throw him a curve ball, try the book called “A is for Salad.” It completely messes up the letters (in a fun way). But it encourages the idea of thinking outside of the box, and it also inspires convos about “what does A really stand for,” etc.

    My favorite line in the book:

    “X and Y are not important letters. Never use them.”


    Congrats on your 5-year-old’s mad context skillz. High (virtual) five! 🙂

  2. Reading to your child at a young age really helps them when they get into school. I’ve see it with my own son. He’s way ahead of the other students in his first-grade class, and it’s because he can read.

    1. maryct70

      Thanks for the comment! I couldn’t agree more. In just the past week or two, I have seen his confidence climb immensly. Here’s hoping it carries him through the rest of elementary school!

  3. I am not a parent but an aunt to three little girls. There is nothing more rewarding then watching them grow, their vocabulary, personality, character, etc … I’ve seen my nieces have ‘aha’ moments when they’ve finally understood something, it’s very rewarding.

    1. maryct70

      You are right. It is very rewarding to see those “Ah Ha” moments. I hope to see many more of them. As a loving aunt, I am sure you contribute to those moments too!

  4. My three children are spread out with 6 years between each….I know my husband I are crazy. I know that reading to the children is really important…..well done! It is so cute when they can read to you.

  5. My youngest son is also five and in kindergarten. Watching him learn and develop is wonderful. Enjoy every minute of it because kids grow up so fast. Sound like you are doing a wonderful job.

    1. maryct70

      Thanks for the kind words! The time does go by fast indeed. I cannot believe he is in Kindergarten. Yet, I know high school graduation will arrive in a blink of an eye.

  6. This story made me grin from ear to ear. It brought me back a few years when my son was around the age of yours. Good memories! I forgot all about it until today.

    Thank you for sharing your experience. It made my day. 🙂

    Congrats of being Fresh Pressed!

  7. Isn’t it awesome?? Our sons are at the same stage! In fact, I’m pretty sure I remember that same homework page from our recent past. 🙂 It is very, very exciting.

    If you’re looking for more books to boost his confidence, try Andy Griffiths’ books. They’re silly and Seuss-like, rather nonsensical, but with prominent word families, they make an excellent bridge to chapter books. My son loves them because they require book marks and make him feel on the same level as his big sister. 🙂 The first is titled “The Cat on the Mat is Flat.”

    Anyway, CONGRATS!

  8. Isn’t just incredible when they reach that milestone? My son is in second grade now and I still get a thrill when he comes home from school and reads to me or his little sister. His homework every day is to read one book aloud. His confidence has really grown and his love of books as well. His current faves are the Junie B. Jones series (mine too) Congrats on being FP.

  9. “You may have tangible wealth untold:
    Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
    Richer than I you can never be–
    I had a Mother who read to me.”
    from “The Reading Mother” by Strickland Gillilan

    Your son is one of the most fortunate for having parents who read to him. What a precious time!

  10. Maura Donnelly

    Mary, that’s so wonderful!!!! I remember when Lucy’s kindergarten teacher told me that they would know how to read by the end of the year and part of me just couldnt believe it was possible. It just didn’t seem quite real to me. I’ll never forget how excited I was to hear her reading at that age. It may seem like a small thing to others but there’s no denying the absolute joy it brings to us as parents.

    One of our favortie authors is Shel Silverstein. I absolutely LOVE the way he plays with words. CC and I have so much fun reading his book, “Runny Babbit”. It can be a little challenging at first (even I had to slow it down a bit the first time I read it out loud) but it’s so much fun. Another favorite is “Take Me Out of the Bathtub” by Alan Katz. It’s “silly dilly songs for silly dilly kids”. They’re funnly little songs that are sung to the tunes of classics like “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”, etc….and they make me laugh everytime we sing them.

    Give your babies hugs and kisses from me!

    1. maryct70

      Aww Thanks Maura! 🙂 I have to get the kids on the Shel Silverstein bandwagon, though Michael says they read it at school and he was not a fan?! I find that hard to believe! I will definitely try the Alan Katz book though!
      Lots of love to you, Kev, and the girls!

  11. leahsinger

    Congrats on such a milestone! I know I’m always excited to see what my 3-year-old learns next. It’s amazing seeing them learn something for the first time that we don’t even think about. Your pride is shining through your post!

    1. maryct70

      Thanks so much! I am very proud indeed. I have a 3-yr old daughter as well, and she is not far behind him at all. It amazes me everyday!

  12. My daughter is just under two years old and while I know it will be a little while before she really is “reading”, when she opens “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” and points to the duck and says, “Yewo Uck”, I can’t help but smile. I’m looking forward to these days coming up, just not too quickly. Congrats on the Freshly Pressed publicity! Keep it up!

  13. I remember when each of my children crossed that milestone and it is an amazing feeling. 🙂 To hear them read to you is so precious! My nine year old son has Autism and is non-verbal, but he was able to show us that even through these obstacles he was learning words and could spell and we were totally blown away! Congrats to you and your son and congrats on being FP! 🙂

  14. It is amazing what kids can do when you give them the right tools. My daughter is now 8 and a prolific reader. I’ve just started studying law (she has been talking about going to uni since she was about 5) and she is enjoying looking at my texts. I sat her down with one and got her to read a page – the only word she really struggled with was legislation, but she sounded it out and got there in the end.

  15. Isn’t that the best! I am anxious for my number three to have that moment. It never gets old. My number one walked his little sister to school today for the first time. MOm pride is better than any drug. Now if they can just prescribe something for the lump in the back of my thoat. Mom pride side effects……when did they grow up? I still miss my baby (a little) Great post!

  16. So glad to hear you took the time to read to your children at bedtime (or, at all). That is so important and additionally, creates wonderful memories that will last a lifetime.

    Thanks for sharing and congratulations! Your work is well done!

  17. I love that “Click!” moment when they discover how many words they CAN read. Tiniest Weasel is about there now, and I’m loving seeing her tackling bigger and better words. On a side note, a friend at work gave me this word “Ghoti” and asked me what it said. I said ‘Ghoti” and he said, “No, it’s FISH! GH from lauGH, O from wOmen and TI from naTIon. FISH!” Made me laugh, anyway….

  18. Gosh, kindergarten homework seems to be getting harder!
    I have 2 kids and they both to follow along when I read to them. It’s priceless to see their eagerness to learn. It’s a great life of words :). Great post too! K

  19. Kind of bitter sweet, isn’t it? My little guy is in the 1st grade now and he seems to be growing by leaps and bounds. I’m so proud of my little man, but so sad to lose that crazy little boy. He still seemed to have more of that in kindergarten; in first grade he seemed to leave all the toddlerishness (don’t you like my new word?) behind.

  20. It is truly amazing what our little ones learn in kindergarten these days. I have a five year old, and I stand in awe at what he is able to do as a result of his teacher this year. How important it is to have highly skilled teachers in these early years.

  21. “It’s not an epic event on a global scale, but it’s a fairly big deal in my house.”

    First of all, clearly, you are a great writer. You engaged me fully in the story — your observations and proud feelings became mine.. I could almost picture the intensity on your son’s face and watch the “lightbulb” go off when he jumped forward and shouted the word in it’s entirety.

    Also- in regards to the sentence I quoted-
    without those “big, epic moments” early on, there would be no “big, epic moments” on the global scale. 🙂 So his “smash, crash and bang” pronunciations are phenomenally awesome.

    Aun Aqui

    1. maryct70

      WOW. I think you give me too much credit, but thank you so much for your kind words!
      I do agree, “without those ‘big, epic moments’ early on, there would be no ‘big, epic moments’ on the global scale.” I would for my children would have the tools at their disposal to make a difference as adults. Certainly, literacy is fundamental tool for that!

  22. It’s heartwarming to see how supportive you are of your son. The fact that he was nonchalant, when I think of my own, now grown kids, well, I wouldn’t expect anything more. Congrats on being freshly pressed!

  23. Hurrah! Sometime we just need to have more confidence in our kids, they can really surprise us when we least expect it. On the other hand we never want to overload them – it’s a tough balance.

    1. maryct70

      I couldn’t agree more. I hesitate to push too much sometimes. However, I know that sometimes that little push gets them to stretch themselves a little and build their confidence even more. Thanks for the comment!

  24. ….and that is one of the reasons why I LOVE being a teacher! Working with 3 and 4 year olds is great! They develop and change so much in 1 year. Treasure the wonderful moments.

    1. maryct70

      I can see why it would make you love teaching! I am thinking of sharing this post with my son’s teacher to share my gratitude to her, though it might be a bit self-indulgent. Thanks for reading and for the nice comment!

      1. Share it. Teachers need all the encouragement they can get!
        Great post on a subject that is indeed of epic proportions. Parents reading to their kids provides a bond of love and confidence that will affect every area of their lives. That HAS to be good for the world!
        And Mom is Freshly Pressed too. Now THAT’s something for him to be proud to read in a couple of years. Well done.

  25. ohh sweet little one. I have a 9 month old and i make sure to take him to B&N once a week. He has one book that he Loves. it’s called “Mommy Hugs”. He still has a long way to read but it’s a start. I’m so happy he likes books 🙂

    1. maryct70

      I started reading with my son at about the same age. For the longest time, we would read “Guess How Much I Love You” every night. The last line reads “I love you all the way to the moon … and back.” It has become our regular mantra when we say goodnight.
      Thanks for reading my post, and for the comment!

  26. As superintendent of schools and a former literacy supervisor, I really LOVE to see parents get so excited about their child’s literacy acquisition. Way to go, Mom! Enjoyed the post! John

  27. This is such an inspiring read,Im a ‘nerd’ that truly believe that reading is the most important skill to teach =D
    Its mums like you and teachers like those at your school that give me faith in future generations xx

    1. maryct70

      Thanks for the kind words! I’ve been a big believer in reading to my kids, not just to instill literacy, but to make sure we spend some quality quiet time together every day. Makes my heart pound to see it pay off. I have to give plenty of credit to his teachers too; he really loves school!

  28. Such a great gift to literally watch your child learn and grow before your very eyes! : ) I’ll never forget when one of my twins discovered she could put letters together to write words…didn’t matter that it was on her handprint…that she drew on the wall! She wrote her name…and she could read it! (She did this at about 4 years old and when we moved, I took a picture of the wall with us. I’m a geek I know.)

  29. Pingback: Quick Links « THE BUCKNELL AFTERWORD

  30. He’s certainly getting up there! Has he read “Mouse Soup” or “Cricket In Times Square”-yet?

    Those were some of my favorite books growing up around five or six. (“The Mouse And The Motorcycle” was another.)

  31. kiraditya18

    lol, very cute. I love how excited you two are about this big milestone, while he remains so casual about it. Someday he’s going to miss the high-fives for learning something new!

  32. I like this blog. It reminds me of my grandchild who is also in kindergarten. I have books for her to read and learn to write better for her visits with me. She always goes right to the books rather than the toys every time. She also tries to instruct her two year old sister. The two year old is anxious to do as well as big sister. It proves the desire to learn is powerful. The confidence of children is to be admired. “I’m a school-ager now,” she tells us.

  33. That’s great! I am constantly upset with my sister in law for not encouraging reading like you do. More than once, I’ve heard her tell my niece to “go watch a dvd” when she is asking someone to read with her. Fortunately for her, she has an uncle who enjoys literacy.

  34. realanonymousgirl2011

    Awww how cute! My daughter is only 8 months but I feel like I should make it a habit to start reading to her now.

  35. My son is 5 and in public school, kindergarten. His aunt and my best friend is a published auther from ME, living in MA. She is married with kids and home schools. I would like to share you on my wordpress website. So far I have collected an aging Catholic whose mom died and left her some jewelry and a mother from ME …as far as sharing. I am trying to collect people whose family experiences are similar to mine to form sort of an online “community” or support group in very loose terms.

  36. Awww… my heart is full, remembering short little fingers trying to hold pencils and concentrating so hard. I love that you mentioned his nonchalance. I’ve watched my son as he’s tackled many life skills, but always with that look on his face, “No big deal. I knew I could do it.” I, however, can read his face inflections well enough to know that success meant he had leapt over fear, drilled in his determination, and practiced repeatedly to develop agile abilities. Enjoy, enjoy every delicious minute of your children’s life!!

  37. I was a high school history teacher for 34 years (US History). This activity will put your child light years ahead of many of his peers in the early grades. The advanced readers can progress on their own. Yeah, sure there is the computer but I hope you can instill the love of a book. Its smell, it weight, its self highlighted pages, and a book’s usefulness as a door stop and as a missile to throw at the dog when it barks too much.

  38. hieuthao

    Wow. i think that u had a great result for ur 5-y-o boy cuz u have got the time every night for him. weldone 4 u 2. my daughter ‘s more than 5 years old n will begin the 1 st year in school, but she got 26 alphabets only. hu hu.

  39. It’s amazing the ability of children and how quickly they assimilate information.
    To my children, one 8 and one 5 years there are times when his mother and I do not give credit, saying things that usually do not correspond to their age, but they are not super gifted, normal, but these time children know more than before.

    A greeting.

  40. R S Hare

    Your son sounds bright! My parents were the same teaching my sister to read. When she was 9 she was reported by her English teacher as having the “vocabulary of a 14 year old” – something the little angel would brag about for the next 5 years!
    Thanks for sharing this post. 🙂

  41. Great work, kids do surprise us all the time.

    It’s not just the teachers that are doing a great job.

    Your input with your children will be rewarded ten-fold.


  42. Congrats on freshly pressed.

    My eldest daughter is 10 and has Aspergus. She always struggled with reading when she was younger. Now she can read as good as the rest in her class. Her school regularly holds reading mornings where parents can go into school and listen to their children read. Its great to see other parents and their children enjoying it too.

  43. Marion

    You don’t know how much you have given me hope in our society. In my line of work I get to see the darker side of life where children are ignored while their mother/father are out getting high. It truly is a miracle to me to see a parent be a good parent and take pride in teaching their children the necessary skill to succeed in life. Kudos to you.

  44. Colin L Beadon

    The most blessed of all parents or guardians, as those who read to their young, read, read, and read, whenever there is a chance, but mostly as the young are laying in bed, and the beauty of good children’s literature, lulls them to sleep, and the words and themes, take their hands leading them into their dreams.

  45. jule1

    How sweet. How sweet sweet sweet! How SWEEEEEEET! It may not be globally significant now, but who know what he will accomplish? Congrats on your little boy’s big leap! I’d be proud, too.

  46. sijoshjimenez

    Cool! Kinda reminds me of the time my mom and I used to do the same thing when I was small. Whenever I get to read stuff to my mom, its not just mere practice, but also a bonding time for me and my mother.
    thanks for sharing this! 🙂

  47. Pingback: Reading an writing: a beginning, and no end in sight! « Samuel Snoek-Brown

  48. Aini

    This is really sweet (I actually teared up a bit). Congratulations on the success! Before you know it he’ll be finishing novels all by himself 🙂

  49. Aww… this is such a cute story! Say hi to your little boy for me! He’s doing a really good job, I can say. Tell him to keep up the good work! 🙂

  50. One day my wife and I will have children. This is when I plan to write articles as mesmorizing as this. Loved every moment of this great article: Your little boy is so lucky!

  51. Children are so amazing b/c they are uninhibited about living as a Human Being. They understand that the body is supposed to learn to communicate what the Being/spirit is experiencing. He is so keen and correct about the “g” and “h” in “high”….I always thought those words were made to trip us up! 🙂 And his no big deal sttitude is the perfect shout out to the fact that children are much more in tune and understand so much more about the importance of living in “the moment” than adults. The generation of kids coming up today have engrained knowledge that appreciating the Now is how they will be able to get the best out of their lives. I have a 9 and 11yr old niece and nephew and they are SO MUCH farther ahead in their understanding of such things than we were as kids. I am sure that reading at a young age helped them in this. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!!! This is a wonderful post and deserves to be up front!!! Enjoy and kiss that boy for us! AmberLena

  52. Enjoy the journey with your child. The most valuable time my son and I had together as he was growing up was time spent together with books. It created such a lasting bond between the two of us – and although he is now 23 we regularly remember the books we read everynight together and we built quite a childrens library of books that he cant wait to share when he has kids of his own.

    His love of books, I feel parlayed into his career choice. See this blog about what his career choice became http://bit.ly/fLhir1

  53. Thank you Freshly Pressed for again alerting me to a blog I have to add to my RSS feeder! Mary, I’m so eager to keep reading posts from another crazy busy working mom like myself. Although I live in California, my company is headquartered in the Boston area so I’m surrounded by the Sox/Pats mania. Looking forward to reading more from you.!

    1. maryct70

      Why thank you! I dropped by your blog. Sounds like there are some common themes that run through both of our lives. I look forwarding to reading your blog posts as well!

  54. As a mom of a 5-year-old going through the same process, I could totally relate to your feeling of elation. I am so proud and so thankful as we have a history of dyslexia in the family, and although my boy has to work super hard, he is definitely starting to read.

  55. I love the post..=) I am also a mother of a six year old and she likes reading as she always see me read… truly, spending time with your kids to do their homeworks and reading books with them on a daily basis, is not just teaching them how to read but also birthing in them the love for books. It is important that study time should be both enjoyed by parents and children. morethan teaching our kids to read, we also need to show them that learning is fun.

    1. maryct70

      Thanks for the kids words. I have to give my son’s teachers plenty of credit as well. They have given him many of the tools he needs to tackle each new new word. i can see him using those tools as he sounds out each letter of each word, repeating the sounds until the words click. It’s magical to watch!

  56. 1hpb

    so wonderful. I wouldn’t give the teacher all of the credit. You must be doing at least one thing right as a mom. whoo hoo!

    now onto another thankless thirteen years.



  57. It is these “AHA” moments that I look forward to most as I start my teaching career.
    Your children are very, very lucky to have parents who are so actively involved in their lives and who put an emphasis on things like reading.
    Great post 🙂

  58. MrZissman

    My fiancée is a kindergarten teacher and it’s nice to see that other teachers’ hard work is reaping such rewards. And kudos to you for taking the time to read with your son, a fabulous idea that I think not many parents take advantage of.

  59. Super cool. As a teacher I can’t tell you not only how important it, but that you’ve already gone beyond. So I’ll just stick with how cool it is to see other kids growing up through your eyes. Thanks. My are almost out of high school and in college.

  60. familylibrary

    I loved reading this post. As a reading teacher who works a lot with struggling kindergarteners, I really enjoy hearing parents reactions as their children learn to read. Kindergarten has to be the best school year. They come to school so ready to learn and they just soak up so much. Congrats on the wonderfully written, touching post. And on that bright little boy.

  61. Lovely post and a great illustration of a beautiful moment. It’s fantastic when you’re able to apply what you’ve learned practically. He should be grateful for having a mum and teachers who care so much. There are so many parents these days that don’t have the time to spend it with their kids.

  62. Pingback: Read With Your Children (It’s not only important; it’s fun!) « Family Library

  63. i can relate too – my 5 yr old loves to read signs when we’re out “mommy, that says ‘x-ray’…” *hahah* i’m sad that our (my husband and i) days of spelling thoughts out (literally…) are coming to an end soon…*hahaha*

  64. Awesome! I had a similar moment with my son this weekend: he’s been out of town while mom works in another town. My wife told me he could read the “BOB” books we got him for Christmas and that he was spontaneously sounding out words. He sat down and read me two of these books and I was super-psyched! I gave him a high five and said “Wow man, this is huge: you can read!”

  65. That’s really great 🙂 I can’t wait until I have kids and can teach them a love of reading 😀 I loved growing up in a house full of books – the ‘library’ which was basically just the study which happened to have bookshelves on every wall was my fave place in the house.

  66. 3Hudd's

    Aw that’s lovely and what a wonderful proud mommy moment. I also have a five year old son. I am sometimes just amazed when he comes homes from school with all this new information, telling all about what he’s learnt. Well done to your son.xx

  67. My mom makes it a point to read to us when we were kids. Today, she does the same with my Aunt’s 3 yr old kid and yes! just as you said the vocabulary build up is great!!! ^.^

  68. Pingback: "Mom, I know LOTS of words." (via Odds ‘N Ends) | concretecrissy

  69. Those moments are so precious! I miss reading together; now that my daughter is a teen, she prefers reading by herself… thank goodness she still loves reading though. I think reading aloud with your kids is one of THE most important things you can do for them. Last year when my daughter was in 6th grade, we did very little ‘textbook’ schooling (we have homeschooled since 1st grade; last year was a sort of ‘unschooling’ year) but she was in a literature group, and we read lots and lots of books, especially old classics, and Shakespeare… when she did her state-mandated ITBS testing at year-end, she still tested out at above the 90th percentile – without “doing school”! I fully attribute that to the power of the written word. So, keep up the good work mom!

  70. Pingback: Squiggles on a Page: The Magic of Reading | Wondering Preacher

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