Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Lacking Basic Grammatical Skills

March 4th is National Grammar Day, and this fact makes me very nervous. You see, I am very self conscious of my grammar. I constantly reread my older posts and edit them for grammar. I actually was hesitant to begin blogging for fear that people are reading my posts and judging my grammar. These feelings all stems from one traumatic day my freshman year in college when the teacher for our freshman colloquium used a sentence I had written as an example in the class. Unfortunately for me, she did not hide my name as she publicly called me out for, and I quote, "lacking basic grammatical skills." 

I was mortified. The moment felt comparable to those dreams where you are late for an exam and naked on the bus. Have you had that one? Well, being publicly flayed for "lacking basic grammatical skills," was a real life version of that dream. Thankfully, I also had an amazing literature professor that semester that took the time to painstakingly edit every essay I wrote. Somehow, up until that point, being the "smart" science nerd has gotten me a pass when it came to writing. I was always the math and science person, not a writer. Why would I need to worry about grammar? Looking back, as much as thinking about that moment makes me break out into a sweat, I am grateful that it happened. 

Recently, I was sitting with another mom discussing books our daughters love to read. When I mentioned how much my daughter adores the The New Captain Underpants Collection (Books 1-5), the other mom commented that she really hates how the books contain incorrect grammar. I remarked that she shouldn't worry about it, and she said that was exactly what her daughter's teacher had said. 

It took me a long time to decide that I was "OK" with incorrect grammar in books. And by incorrect grammar in books, I really mean that the dialogue represents the voice of the character, which may not always use correct grammar. I will admit that the first time we read a Junie B. Jones book I cringed a little on the inside. However, my oldest daughter began pointing out each time a character spoke incorrectly when we would read the books aloud. Hearing the words spoken aloud, she was able to recognize the mistakes. During those countless hours she had listened to me read dialogues that contained correct grammar she had built a framework for comparison. 

March 5th is World Read Aloud Day.  I really have grown to love how National Grammar Day is juxtaposed next to World Read Aloud day. Reading aloud is critical for developing language comprehension and grammar skills. Reading aloud has provided her with the opportunity to hear the syntax of speech, knowing there should be a pause when you come to the end of a sentence. Reading aloud has exposed her to more animals than I ever knew existed and new words on a daily basis. And thankfully, reading aloud has developed that critical ear to recognize poor subject verb agreement. 



  1. Wow! Sometimes what teachers and professors will do is unbelievably tactless. Sorry that happened. But I'm glad you had a caring professor at the same time who could help you learn. My most embarrassing similar moment in college was the tennis coach that said "Okay, I'm going to have to teach you how to throw." Not that it probably wasn't already obvious to everyone in the class. And he *did* give me some good instruction, but his attitude of disbelief was pretty mortifying.

    1. It is truly amazing how these moments leave an imprint on our lives.

  2. You know, when I signed up to be the "Mystery Reader" for C's class back in January, I didn't realize I would be reading on National Read Aloud Day! What good fortune! I read Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons(by Eric Litwin) and Deep in the Swamp (by Donna Bateman) and there's nothing like sixteen 3-4 year old voices joining you in reading aloud! They have such a strong desire to participate and share their questions and observations that they can hardly sit still (much to the consternation of their teacher). I personally love it when they get so active - when they are so engaged in the story they just have to move their bodies. So we acted out some animal movements like those we'd find in the Okefenokee Swamp, and we found our belly buttons and chanted those groovy words together. It certainly was a special day to surprise my son as his "Mystery Reader", but it filled my heart to bursting to share my love of reading and storytelling with his little classmates on this Read Aloud Day.

    1. I LOVE that you had such a great experience reading aloud to C's class. I can't wait until tomorrow because I get to be the mystery reader for little J's class.It is a truly magical moment watching the kids eyes light up when they get excited about reading. ;-)


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