Last week was shortened by Eid celebrations. Haroun and I are reading our second ‘Hardy Boys’ book, punctuated with repeated-reading exercises during our two-hour-per-day sessions. He is making steady but uneventful progress, his accuracy, fluency, prosody, and confidence gradually improving.
Today I asked him to read silently, but moving his lips and ‘hearing’ the words in his head. He liked it, working through an entire chapter that way (about 8 pages). He is painfully slow. I stopped him at the bottom of each page to ask detailed questions, and he often misunderstood the text or missed the key idea.
One of the problems is a lack of ‘world knowledge’. In today’s text, the music star’s agent is giving an interview to reporters, telling them about events that the star wants kept private. He explains “This is the story of the year. All the celebrity new shows are here. […names a few…] You can’t buy publicity like this!”
So I ask Haroun “Why is the agent talking to the reporters?” and he has no idea. Worse, he didn’t even notice that it was something important to the story.
“Do you know about celebrity magazines like ‘People’?” No, he doesn’t. “Have you ever shopped with your Mom in a supermarket?” No. “Do you know […name a few stars…]?” Mostly no, but he knows about Drake, who had done something noteworthy this weekend. So we talked about the work involved in being famous like Drake, and how the media amplifies talent into fame.
It makes sense that a non-reader wouldn’t notice magazines, especially if they aren’t lying around the house. But there is so much cultural knowledge that we take for granted, that mostly comes from reading. How can we immerse Haroun into the world fast enough that he can make sense of a Hardy Boys himself? How can we catch up the lost years?