Friday, April 5, 2013

Raising a toddler that reads

Now let me start this post by saying that I am by no means an expert on this subject.  I have one GIRL, and I just know what has worked for me…. and what I know from my years of teaching.  Girls and boys are very different…… boys tend to be much more active and rambunctious…. but I do think these things would also work for them.  My girl pretty much never stops moving when she is awake…. and she now LOVES books.
One of my baby’s favorite things to do is read.  I knew from the time that I got pregnant with her that I wanted to read to her each night and wanted to develop a love for books.  My husband hates to read, and only reads to acquire knowledge.  I love to read for pleasure and don’t particularly like reading for knowledge.  lol.  My hope is she will be a mix of both.  When she was first born I tried reading to her each night…. and it was a no go.  She hated it.  She wanted quiet nursing time.  There went my plans for her to be a book worm.  Slowly and through experimentation I learned what worked for us. 
Here are my tips….
1. Find what works for your family.  If reading at night works for you…. great!  My kid hated it.  We read casually all through the day during play time.
2. Don’t stress it.  We will sometimes read half a page of a book and then she has moved on.  That is fine!  Take a whatever goes attitude.  Don’t feel like you need to finish a book… or even the page that you are reading.  When instilling a love of reading into an infant, it is all about experimentation and exposure.  Sometimes we will read the same book five times in a row with her sitting in my lap…. other times I will read half a sentence while she is running around before she rips it out of my hands. 
3. Simply playing with books counts.  Looking at pictures.  Opening and closing the books. Turning the pages.  Remember this shouldn’t be a stressful thing for you or baby.  It is fun. 
4. Buy baby friendly books.  While they are young board books and indestructibles are your friend.  (see number 3 for reasons why)  We keep all of her books on an Emmie size shelf where she is free to pull them all out, step on them, turn the pages, etc.  They are her books.  any books that I want to keep nice stay out of reach until she is older. 

Photo Apr 05, 9 39 45 AM
5. Get books that have few words.  Babies have short attention spans.  One word on a page?…. great!  we will read that one word and then sometimes point out things in the picture.  Like… Brown.  The monkey is brown.  A monkey says *insert monkey noise that I can’t spell* (below is a picture of an indestructible book.  It is water and tear proof.  You could even take these in the tub.  Bath time may be the best time for reading for your family if that is the only time baby is in one place at one time. (see number 1)
Photo Apr 05, 9 37 28 AM
6. Touch and feel books are awesome.  We have several.  Pat the bunny is a favorite which is why it is practically falling apart.  Again…. I let her play with the books, turn the pages, etc.  so I expect them to get warn.  I will probably buy her a new one soon to replace this one.
7. Books that make sounds are also fun! While I read Em will push the buttons (not the correct button for the page… but meh… who cares.  Again the fewer words on a page the better.
Photo Apr 05, 9 38 05 AM
8. Babies love to see pictures of other babies.  These baby face books are a favorite.  They are short and she loves seeing the messy kids. 
Photo Apr 05, 9 38 30 AM
9. Experiment with different kinds of books.  Huge books, tiny books.  Books that come in a box. 
Photo Apr 05, 9 38 52 AM
10. You don’t need to spend a lot of money. Ask for board books for birthdays and Christmas.  If you are going by my tips and letting baby play with, step on, pull off a shelf, they are going to get messed up. So, if you only spend a few dollars on the book, you are more willing to let this happen. Check your local dollar store, the dollar section at target, garage sales, thrift stores, department stores when there are sales. Sometimes the most random book becomes a favorite. Also, check out scholastic! Yes those book orders from when you were a kid. I'm pretty sure you can order online even if your kid isn’t in school... or just find a friend that is a teacher and order through them. We got a ton of our board books though there.

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