Shelagh Robinson Mirror Read Blog 14: The Multi-Tool of Books

“They are the Multi-Tools of Books,” commented a dad at the Mile-End Library, as he spoke to me in the mirror’s reflection.

Great observation!  What else do you call books that you can read in distinctly different ways, for different creative purposes, for different reading levels: Educational stories, decoding games, brain builders, eye-contact facilitators… And that’s just to start.

We were watching his son maneuver an unbreakable camping mirror over the pages of Mr Puff & Mr Peeve.  He made Puff’s nose disappear, and transformed Peeve turned into a 4-eyed mud mop, before slipping the letters right off the edge of page.

When I read with children, usually we are all peering into a big mirror, my reflection looking back from mini-crowd of little faces as we enjoy the story.  Or we hold our small mirrors close to the books to play with perspective and light-bouncing.

But we also put away the mirrors, and read in reverse without any reflection at all.  At the library, I noticed a couple of parents’ surprise when they first showed the books to their children and realized how able their little ones were to read backwards text, no looking glass necessary.

In fact, several kids were faster mirror readers than their parents.  One mom remarked, “It was like he didn’t even notice the letters were flipped.” He was as good a reader as ever!

A father mentioned that his daughter, 6, who is just starting to read, was able to sound out the reversed letters without a mirror with ease.  Suddenly, with no practice at all, she was able to make sense of those funny squiggles.

Ah, young brains, and the joys of not yet being fully lateralized to know left from right!

Soon enough they’ll learn which way an L faces, and how to negotiate Rs and Ns.  But for a few moments, while their brains are still flexible, everything is a game;  children are able perform feats of mental gymnastics without effort.
It’s wonderful to be able to watch! Check it out yourself.

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