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March 30, 2010

Learning to Read with Metro

2010.03 bus My older daughter is four and on the cusp of knowing how to read. She can recognize and write all of her letters and identify them with the appropriate sounds. She just hasn't yet pieced together how to string those sounds into words. But if you ask her, she'll tell you she's already a reader.

I made the mistake of gently correcting her, once. I haven't really had the courage to do so again. "You're almost reading, love, but not quite." We were driving home together on New Hampshire Avenue.

YES, I CAN! she bellowed at me. See? Look! It's a Z2!

A route number lit up on the back of a stopped Metro bus is not quite the same as Charles Dickens or even Dr. Seuss, but yes, I suppose, she read it.

Even from the comfort of my own car public transit is causing me problems.

Now she 'collects' route numbers and tallies all the ones she sees each day. I get a report at dinnertime: there was a K6 and a Z2 and a 49 and an R3! There's always an R3, because it stops just feet from the front door of her preschool. It's her favorite because many of her teachers ride that route.

At pickup time the other day we saw this R3, and I asked her if she could sound out any of the words on the advertisement. "You can do this" is a great message for a girl who is trying to learn to read, I thought, but she had no interest in challenging herself. It's an R3! I already read that bus!

So, Metro, here's what I need. I keep hearing your ads about new leadership and new responsiveness to the needs of your customer base. I have a need. I need you to expand your route numbers. Short words would be great, ok? Nothing with tricky phonics. If we could see the CAT bus and the HAT bus rolling up New Hampshire, then maybe real reading will come via your route displays, after all.

Thanks!!

Robin suspects that one day soon her daughter will be reading full sentences but that she's hiding her burgeoning skill be she enjoys being read to too much. You can read more about this devious girl and her family at Robin's blog, The Not-Ever-Still Life.

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