In the past 24 hours I've heard my daughter use two cliches/expressions correctly. Both of them caught my slightly by surprise, and I wondered where she had heard them. It struck me that correct use of such expressions is a mark of emergent literacy.
First up was at lunchtime yesterday. We had been working on some household projects, and were having lunch a bit late. I asked her what she wanted, and she said: "Oh, I'm just going to take matters into my own hands." Then she scouted the refrigerator and ended up deciding to pour herself some Lucky Charms. I let this not-so-nutritious lunch pass in general support of her instinct for self-reliance. [And because dinner was only a few hours away anyway.]
Then this morning I was reading to her at breakfast. We were working our way through a stack of recent picture books that had arrived for potential review. She looked at one and said: "Well, it doesn't look that good from the cover. But you know what they say: you can't judge a book by its cover." After coughing in surprise I almost said: "well, sometimes you can", but I decided to let that go. And in fact, she was right that the book ended up not being to our personal tastes.
As a society, shared communication rests on a common language, including a common understanding of phrases and expressions. It pleases me to see that my daughter, at six, is starting to pick these up herself.