Charlotte and Mr. Whiskers

By Sherri Goodner, 2020-2021 Literacy First Tutor

This past fall, I started lessons with Charlotte, my first student as a Literacy First tutor. Charlotte is a vibrant, intelligent, inquisitive, studious young girl who is full of life. The fact that she is so inquisitive really made reading passages fun and rewarding. She asked the most interesting questions, demonstrating her level of reading comprehension. Her “cold reads” (when a student reads a passage for the first time) and “hot reads” (when a student reads a passage they’ve read before) consistently increased by leaps and bounds. And on February 11, 2021, Charlotte graduated from the Literacy First program.

In honor of her graduation, I wanted to share a little about Charlotte’s reading journey with Literacy First. First of all, she is learning remotely from home due to the pandemic. Her parents have her set up at a desk in her bedroom with everything she needs to be successful in her studies. Charlotte’s father stayed close to greet me at the beginning of our sessions and to close out the end of our sessions. Every Friday, I emailed her mother the reading passages and any additional materials that we covered in an effort to encourage her to practice reading.

On Mondays, Charlotte would tell me how she read to “Mr. Whiskers,” her beloved pet cat. She also frequently tried to read to her younger brother. The additional practice definitely helped her increase her confidence when tackling reading. It became important for me to share additional reading materials with her, such as National Geographic Kids. Charlotte especially enjoyed reading about geckos or sharks. On Fridays, as a special treat when we had finished the lesson, I would share video clips with Charlotte to give additional information about the reading passages. For example, when we read about race cars, we watched a video about a female race car driver. It was very important to me to help expand Charlotte’s knowledge and curiosity, and to provide her with representation of women and minorities in the reading material. Eventually, Charlotte shared with me that she aspires to be an artist. She shared some of the many pictures that she drew, painted, and posted on her wall. Her room became a mini art gallery. Her favorite picture was the one of her cat, Mr. Whiskers, that she created with her mother.

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