Especially on these wintery, stay-inside-days, I'm grateful for good children's books and for our children's growing interest in reading them! It's been a wonderful activity for me to do with the kids, as well as for them to do independently or together.
And, if you're interested in reading a little more on the topic...
Erik and I have enjoyed reading to our children since they were nearly first born. Using "board books" - bright pictures with easy-to-turn pages - from our local children's library, we'd talk about the pictures and progress to reading the words. Over the months and years, reading old favorites from our growing home library and reading newly discovered books from the children's library has been a great means of teaching new vocabulary and concepts, providing a reference point for our day -to-day lives, and offering a foundation to build on new and unknown concepts.
I read somewhere that children hear a certain number of frequently used words (approx. 100), but reading these "simple" children's books expands their vocabulary nearly 4 times that much. There is so much more than entertainment value in reading to kids!
For our family, we read at predictable times (like before naps and bed), and also began to build a regular reading time into our day (for us, after I washed the breakfast dishes). It is a good way to ease into the day: every one's hunkered down together, listening, questioning, discussing, and even providing a platform to address other aspects of our day.
As the kids became mobile (read: rolling or crawling), they would go independently to the bookshelf (we chose a lower shelf so they can access it) to collect books to browse through. At present, none of them can "read" yet, but they have been read to so much, their minds can follow a story through the pictures of a familiar book, or create a story line by observing the pictures of a new book.
As they became internally motivated to look at books on their own, I began to establish a independent reading time into our day. I'd set them up on the couch with a stack of books (some familiar, some new from the library), set a few expectations, and give them an amount of quiet time that I thought was appropriate. We had to work out a few kinks initially, but eventually the kids could sit still and "read" on their own for a few minutes. Over the next few months, the time stretched to 1/2 hour or more. I asked the kids to set aside a few books that they liked and wanted me to read aloud at the end of their independent reading time. I was able to wash the breakfast dishes, and then join them on the couch. They were especially eager for me to read at this point. (What IS that chicken doing here in this book? Why IS that girl crying on this page?)
And where is Jack? I pull his "pack and play" into the living room and set him up beside the couch by his sisters. I put some "board books" in there for him - familiar ones that we've read multiple times together, as well as some "new" board books from the library. He especially likes to manipulate the ones that have flaps to open and look inside. He busys himself reading, too. (To be fair, here's a word on Jack: he's so easy going, easily entertains himself, often to be found quietly tucked away beside the bookshelf reading on his own; reading in his "pack and play" has been second nature to him. Even so, by contrast, Camille seemed to get frustrated at books when she was his age; she wanted to eat them. We carried on reading to her as long as she was interested and then we'd put the book away. She has grown into appreciating reading - both together and independently, and now can be found at any random moment of the day reading alongside Jack, too.)
Ohh, such good, valuable, fun times together!! (Yes, yes, you may recall that my favorite class in university was Children's Literature. Even so, I love the value of children's books now more than ever... and I'm guessing this won't be the last post on this topic!)
How about you? Do you have love of reading? What sparked your interest? If not, why do you think that was?
Any of you out there (moms, teachers, librarians, etc), with some thoughts or tips you'd like to share with the rest of us?