We don’t usually make Eliza’s Reads posts about non-chapter books (that would need to be an entire blog by itself), but this one deserves a mention.

Eliza's Reads:  Clifford Runs

Eliza read Clifford Runs to Story Time , a library book from school, all by herself!

We’ve been working on it awhile now and, as of last week, Eliza can finally read whole books by herself. She’s been able to “read” books we have at home for awhile now (she loves to read favorites to Jonas), but that has been mostly reciting from rote memorization. She’s now able to read beginner books that she’s never read before (with help).

Eliza's Reads:  Clifford Runs

She picks up tough words from context clues and the pictures, but helping Eliza learn to read has reminded me of something I’ve almost forgotten: English spelling is totally not phonetic.

This video just about sums it up.


Spelling was the only subject in school I ever struggled with (I’m still terrible at it), and it’s no wonder: vowel sounds in English make no sense. The majority aren’t made up of the two designated sounds for each vowel taught in preschool; they are mostly schwa, the toneless neutral vowel sound that sounds sort of like “uh” (the upside down “e” in phonetical spellings). If you don’t know what I’m talking about, say “banana” really fast. The first and last “a”s in banana are the schwa sound. This sound can disguise itself as every vowel in the English language and is the most common sound in English.

When she’s sounding out each letter, she tests the possible sounds a letter makes to see which one fits best in the word. For example, when sounding out “car” she first makes a “ssss” “aayyy” “rrrr” sounds and then tries “kuh” “ahhhh” “rrr”. She sometimes ventures a guess first but corrects based on context.

She’ll sound out: “kuh” “ahhh” “rrr”… Care? No! Car!!!! There are always plenty of high fives after she sounds out each tough word. She also knows a lot of common words by sight (“the” “and” “in” etc.).

But I can tell it’s exhausting. She’s proud of herself when she’s done reading a book to me, but she’s always glad when it’s time to lean back and listen to me read one to her.

It’s a wonder we learn to read at all. I’m feeling really sorry for all of you English as a second (or third…) language folks out there. It’s tricky, this language of ours.

Eliza's Reads:  Clifford Runs

Way to go EB!