Joel catches onto phonics right now, but should he be reading? [Joel is 5.]
After replying, I realized I wanted to write a post on my own blog, so I could find it later. Here's my revised version of my reply:
Homeschoolers (especially unschoolers) can tell you, there is no should about when they start. My son goes to a 'freeschool'. There are classes, but he doesn't have to go. He was in that almost reading stage for about two years. I remember my ecstasy when he 'read' Go, Dog, Go to me two years ago. (I helped with some of the words, and the rest he had almost memorized.)
It's just in the past month or two (he just turned 8) that he has picked up a book and read. The Wimpy Kid books are what did it for him. He pores over them, sometimes for hours. I wasn't sure how much he was getting, but then I bought him Mouse Tales, by Arnold Lobel, on Saturday. He read it that night, and the next morning read it out loud to me. Ahh... He's reading!
To me, the most important thing is liking it, so it wasn't hard to wait. We love books here, and I trusted he'd get there. But am I excited? Oh yeah!!!
He's at the stage where he needs 'beginning reader' books. Most really good kids' books do not have severely limited vocabularies. The writers write naturally, the way they would in telling a story to a young person. Some of the words will make a young reader stretch, but there's enough easier words that it's ok for a reader who's been reading for a while. My son needs books right now with limited vocabulary, and I haven't found many good ones. Arnold Lobel works magic. He writes good fun stories (check out Frog and Toad!) that a beginner can read.