First Attempts

There’s a birthday in the family today. Larry’s little brother Evan has turned four. In the usual family tradition, everyone has gathered in the kitchen for a pancake breakfast. After the dishes are cleared, Evan is ready for birthday presents.

“Happy birthday, Evan,” says Evan’s father, putting down two wrapped boxes before him. Evan makes a grab for his presents—ready to tear at the wrapping paper. “Hey, Evan—what about the card?” asks his mother. Evan tears open the envelope. After a struggle, he pulls out a birthday card.

“Hey, it’s a picture of a train!” he calls out. “I like trains.” Then he points to a few letters he knows. “There’s a ‘B.’ There’s an ‘O’.” Then, while looking at the words on the inside of the card, he rapidly sings the Happy Birthday song to himself.

“Want me to really read the card?” asks his six-year-old brother. “I can read that card to you,” says Larry, who takes the card and unceremoniously begins to read in a slow, halting tone, sounding out almost every word, getting help from Mom with some words.

“Ha…ppy B..irth…day and m..a..ny more. Can h… believe…you are four!”

“Why, Larry!” reply both his parents simultaneously—they had never seen Larry do anything like this before. They eye one another with shock. This is the first time that Larry has ever volunteered to read something. In the past, they’d wondered if he was really reading books or reciting them. But he has never seen this card before, and so now they are sure: he has become a real reader.

Evan sets about tearing open his presents. One of his new treasures is a train set, the other is a book.

Evan turns to his brother and says,“Hey, Larry—will you read my new book to me?”

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