Like a lot of kids her age, my seven-year-old daughter is still learning to read, especially when it comes to the way certain letter combinations sound. This is a real challenge since it can simply depend on the word! Her teachers must be all too familiar with how difficult this is because at back-to-school night, they featured this clever poem by Dr. Gerard Nolst Trenité:

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!


Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it's written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.


The poem goes on to illustrate over 800 of the worst spelling irregularities in the English language. Even if those are the worst, I’d imagine that there must be hundreds more (thousands, even?) that leave kids guessing! The poem ties it all up with this:

Finally, which rhymes with enough --
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!


There are times when my daughter would love to heed his advice and I remember feeling the same way when I was her age. It’s hard to know what to do when those moments come, but over time, I’ve discovered that by approaching learning to read with humor and kindness, we can lighten the mood and keep her love of books alive. Despite the frustrating times, my daughter adores rereading all the books she’s grown to love and, just as important to me, can’t wait discover new ones, too, all on her own.

 Reading Playsets