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Author Topic: Bianca's Story - What happens 10+ years after learning to read as a baby/toddler  (Read 54714 times)
The Architect
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« on: July 25, 2012, 06:29:55 AM »

Recently, Dr. Richard Gentry told me that he had been speaking with Bianca, who had learned to read as a baby/toddler.  Dr. Gentry invited Bianca, now 13, to write a piece on his blog, and it makes for great reading.

Here is an excerpt, from the blog piece "Parent Lessons From a Successful 13-Year-Old Reader - A 13-year-old explains how to teach babies to read and why it's important".


“How I Learned to Read” by Bianca Florence

I love reading. It has been an important tool in shaping my life. My advanced reading skills helped me throughout kindergarten, elementary, and middle school and I’m confident my advanced reading skill will help me in the future.

Here’s how it happened. My mom taught me to read when I was a baby and toddler using simple index cards with sight words handwritten on them. She turned learning to read into playing a game making up fun sentences with the cards. Learning this way was filled with a lot of laughter, fun and joy, and I never knew that we were doing anything unusual or that learning to read early was special. Then I got to kindergarten and I was the only one reading. At first—I admit—I hid the fact that I could read from my teacher. I don’t know why, but once my wonderful kindergarten teacher saw I could read she knew what to do. She made me feel special. She was proud of me. That had a huge impact on me wanting to be a great student. Since then, reading has not only influenced my work in school but also other areas in my life such as my daily routine.

An Early Bedtime Routine

All of my life, I’ve had a consistent bedtime routine that I looked forward to. My parents would read to me in bed and we would choose stories that had to do with recent activities or a special holiday. Every Halloween we would read The Teeny Tiny Ghost and near Christmas it was The Mouse Before Christmas. We read them over and over, every year, and I looked forward to the different seasons and the corresponding books. This joy of reading has stayed with me ever since, and I think of reading as a part of my personality. It has helped me to stand out in school because I am able to add to class lessons. Since I have read so many books on a wide variety of topics, my teachers can always count on me to get the discussion going.

Reaching Reading Independence

While I always loved reading with my mother, it was during first grade that reading independently really clicked for me. I read my first A to Z Mystery, and I was completely hooked on the idea of reading a series. What’s more, my first grade teacher was a wonderful reader; when she read to the class, she would use different character voices that completely captured my attention. When it was time to write my first book report, my teacher handed me a copy of The Meanest Doll in the World and I started reading on the drive home from school. I read all 304 pages in a few days; I couldn’t put the book down! I felt so proud finishing such a thick book and it really built up my confidence to tackle more challenging material. Nowadays, every time I read a good book it’s like a perfect vacation that takes me on any excursion I could dream of. Books are my vacations from a tough day in school or a perfect distraction during a long car ride.

I’m in middle school now, and I like to read stories about girls who do amazing things. I look for books that challenge me, not because of difficult vocabulary or the number of pages, but books that have strong female characters that push the boundaries of their lives and accomplish their goals. I just finished reading Between Shades of Grey. It’s an inspiring story of survival and the close bond that the main character Lina shares with her family. It’s definitely a new favorite.

Tips for Parents for Raising Lifelong Readers

Here are some tips I have for any parent looking to instill a lifelong love of reading in their child:

            1) Most importantly, read every day. My mom read to me from the day I came home from the hospital. Read even if you think your child doesn’t understand what’s being read or that they won’t remember it when they are older. Even now that I’m a teenager, Mom and I still read aloud to each other at night. This month we are reading Between the Lines. It’s written by a mother and her high-school-age daughter, and it’s perfect for reading time. It’s like we have our own book club!       

            2) If your child has special interests, incorporate them into reading. Here’s an example. I like to sing, so Mom and I would look up the lyrics to a new song and sing it together over and over following along with the words. Singing it over and over until I could read the words by myself was important.  Mom also picked up on my interest in games. Even today we play games like Mad Libs and get everyone in the family playing together.  It’s a fun word game where a paragraph is given to you, but some of the words are taken out and you get to replace them. The only clue you start with is the part of speech.

            3) I suggest taking regular trips to the library so there is always a good selection of reading material on hand.  We always had a stack of books my mom found and the rest were whatever books looked interesting to me. I recommend including some non-fiction too, as I always enjoyed reading about historical figures such as Helen Keller and Albert Einstein in the Who Was series of books.


To read the entire article, please visit Dr. Gentry's blog on Psychology Today here:

Dr. Gentry put me in touch with Bianca who has kindly agreed to a written interview. I would like to ask some follow-up questions, and I thought it'd be good to involve you all in the process.

So please let me know what your thoughts are, and whether you have any questions you would like to ask Bianca or her mother!



« Last Edit: July 25, 2012, 06:34:08 AM by KL » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2012, 08:58:11 AM »

Oh I had so many questions the first time I read this, but I can't think of them now! Drats. I would love to know what her mums motivation for teaching her to read early was. Also how did her peers react as she travelled through school. Also how many teachers did she have that " got it" compared with how many teachers she had that just ignored her skill? Obviously thisisonly relevent to early school years but I am curious. She mentions that the first 2 teachers she had were positive experiences. My kids have had a mixed bag so far so I wonder if the teacher can make a huge impact ( or how big an impact)  on developing early reading skills further faster. ( I hope that makes sence?)
I will read  it again, with a pen in hand  LOL


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« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2012, 06:38:56 AM »

LOL I had most of the same questions too, Mandab!

But if anything, what I gleaned from this article is that what we do DOES make an impact on the child, and if done with a lot of fun and love, the impact can TRULY lead to a lifelong love of learning (and reading!)

The Architect
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« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2012, 01:14:54 AM »

Do any of you have any other questions you'd like to ask?


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« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2012, 03:00:10 AM »

Some specifics about the way she learnt would be interesting. Did mum follow Doman? Or had she even heard of him? Who many cards did she show? How often? How big? What age did she start? Did she notice an improvement in Bianca's memory relative to her age ( improved memory seems to be pretty common with these early learners) Did dad have much to do with it? Was he on board?
How long did did her parents read to her for each night at bed time?
And maybe ask for some more tips for parents, I am sure she has some more!
Ok maybe that's enough questions from me!  laugh


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« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2012, 04:25:36 AM »

You mentioned singing lyrics, but do you have any memories of doing actual flashcard sessions with your mom?
Do you ever remember NOT knowing how to read?
Do you have any siblings? Were they early readers too?
A couple of favorite holiday books and recent favorite books were mentioned, but what is your all time favorite children's book or series? Middle school?
Did being an early reader inspire you to automatically begin handwriting early as well or did you develop your writing and spelling skills more traditionally in kindergarten?

Well done to Mom & Bianca and thank you for taking the time to share your story. It is very encouraging! smile

« Last Edit: August 04, 2012, 04:27:29 AM by TeachingMyToddlers » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2012, 06:06:19 AM »

What other activities you used to teach her reading?
Was there ever time she refused to pay attention to reading session?
What did your typical day look like?
Did you  also do math, languages or other subjets?
What conviced you to teach her to read early?
What your family and friends thought about early reading?
How many books did you read before bedtime?

Which of today ´s teaching to read products do you like?

These questions are more for her mum to answer smile

« Last Edit: March 06, 2013, 06:22:40 PM by lelask » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2013, 01:25:48 PM »

This was great to read, thanks for sharing. Its really good to hear how Bianca still loves reading 13 years later as people have told me that early teaching would put my daughter off. I love reading myself and I never remember not being able to read - I learnt just through being read to and following along to books on tapes. Ive just started using Little Reader with my daughter.

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« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2013, 10:39:21 PM »

THAT's the kind of story I need: a teenager's view on how she was brought up, on how the early learning her parents did with her influenced her life, her character, her habits etc.


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« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2015, 08:27:45 AM »

What other activities you used to teach her reading?

« Last Edit: January 26, 2015, 04:24:34 AM by Kezia » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2015, 06:38:21 PM »

I would love to hear her responses to those questions. When will be able to read them?

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« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2015, 04:43:33 PM »

I've heard people say NOT to promote early reading for the ridiculous reason that "they'd be bored when starting school".  And I've heard this more than a few times too!


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« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2019, 05:35:15 AM »

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