My 8-year-old, who just learned how to read two and a half years ago, just finished reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. A 734-page novel. Did I mention he's 8?
When he was a baby he really took to books. I'd keep a basket full of children's picture books in the family room, and he'd go through it daily, thumbing through the pages. Too little to talk or understand the words, he would study each picture. Story time was an expected part of bedtime. Most nights my husband would read to him during "buddy time."
When he entered kindergarten and started learning how to read, I kept telling him how exciting it was to learn to read a book by yourself. He'd see me reading novels and ask, "Mommy, HOW can you read a book without pictures??" I told him that when you become a good reader, you draw your own pictures in your mind. The words help you to paint the world that you are reading. When he entered the first grade, he began reading Magic Treehouse books and finally understood. He couldn't get enough. We now have nearly all of the 40-something-book set. Though always on a budget, I never have felt guilty for buying my kids books. I look at books as an investment, not an indulgence.
This year, he asked me if he could begin the Harry Potter series. I was hesitant because I was afraid he wouldn't understand them. Not only are they longer than any other books he had read, they also are written by a British author, in British dialect, and are much more complex than what he was used to... but he wore me down. His brother gave him Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in December, and since then, he has taken off. After he completes each book, we watch the movie as a special treat. It amazes me how he can tell me in which chapter each scene occurs... and in most cases, he can tell me the specific page!
I don't write this to say that my child is a genius or prodigy... (though to me he's a superhero)... I write this because I am bursting with pride that my child has discovered this whole new world of reading. And he loves it. I didn't discover my love of books until I was an adult. I can only imagine if I would have fell in love with books sooner. I am so happy for him.
His love of reading has rubbed off on his little brother now, who's 5. He now keeps his very own basket of books that he totes around with him. And oftentimes at night I can hear my oldest reading to him when it's well past bedtime... but I don't gripe.