Last Sunday my son, aged seven, discovered the joy of reading. He could read before that, of course: he’s been coping fine with foundation phase literacy, and he has been an avid consumer of the text of consumerism — shop signs, Lego manuals, the packaging on groceries. His book-loving parents and grandparents (and his sister, whose bibliophilia is even more enthusiastic) have been reading to him since he was an infant.

But last Sunday, for the first time, something distilled in his mind; a connection was made in his brain. He picked up a battered Ladybird copy of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, a book that had lain neglected in boxes and on shelves for almost four decades since his father read it as a boy. He found a quiet place to read it undisturbed. And he emerged, triumphant, delighted, telling us all about the story’s setting, the twists and turns in the plot, the character arcs. He had initiated himself. He was now a Reader. ..

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