The Trouble With Early Readers

Ever since Lily was a baby, we have been reading “That’s Not My Puppy” with a slight reader’s edit on the last page. In case you aren’t familiar with the book, it goes a little something like this.

That's not my puppy... Its coat is too hairy.

That's not my puppy. Its tail is too fluffy.

That's not my puppy. Its paws are too bumpy.

That's not my puppy. Its collar is too shiny

That's not my puppy. Its ears are too shaggy.

That's my puppy! His nose is so squashy.

Even though this page technically says “That’s my puppy”, we have always edited it when we read to say “That’s NOT my puppy. Its nose is too squashy.” We do this so that we can make the last “page” interactive.

At our house, the last “page” of “That’s Not My Puppy” has always been: “That’s my puppy! That’s my Lumpy puppy!” and involves Lumpy, our dog, running into the room from across the house and getting petted.

That's my puppy! That's my Lumpy puppy!

Well, the other day I was reading the book with Lily sitting right next to me. She can read now and is getting pretty good at it. When she saw the last page of the book, she yelled at me. “No, Mommy! That says ‘That’s my puppy!’ It doesn’t say ‘not’! That’s the puppy!”

Of course, she was right and discovered that we’ve been reading the book wrong to her for the last four years. While it’s neat that she’s learning to read, I don’t like my secrets revealed like that! I told her I read it that way so we can pet Lumpy at the end because that’s more fun all of us, but she keeps telling me I should read the right words. The “right” words at our house are that our puppy is Lumpy puppy. I don’t know what she’s talking about!

Man, reading just gives kids too much power sometimes. Who knew? Add this to an incident the other day where we had to eat at Subway because it had an “open” sign while the Thai restaurant we were there for was closed and it makes a mom somewhat regret teaching her kid to read early.

Me: Aw, Bangkok Kitchen is closed. We’ll have to go somewhere else.

Lily: But Mommy, Subway is open. See? The open sign is all lit up. We need to eat at Subway.

Me: Let’s go over to that other commercial strip to see what they have.

Lily: But it says open! We need to go there.

And we did because you have to reward early reading. And while the two small children were ecstatic, it was no Thai food.

Reading… sometimes it backfires.


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