Monday, June 29, 2015

Tips for Reading With Babies-- and beyond

Reading with little ones can sometimes be far from "storybook perfect". I remember the first time I was able to finish a whole picture-book with my son still attentive, it felt like a miracle. For a long time, reading books involved baby grabbing the book and then baby trying to eat the book. Then baby learns to turn the page, and you are either speed read or abandon reading all together. 

I was watching a friend try to read to her one-year-old last week. I could totally relate to her frustrated feelings "I'm suppose to read to him, but I never make it through a single book!" If you are in the same boat, don't despair! 

Fist of all, when you're introducing books to you're little ones- have realistic expectations. It may, at times, feel like more of a chore than some heavenly educational experience. This is okay and totally normal. Redefine success in this area. Sometimes success might be a few moments looking at pictures. The key if just to keep trying. Keep "reading" even if it doesn't involve a lot of actual reading.    

Secondly, it's more than likely a few books will be harmed in the process. I know, those beautiful shiny books you bought your child!! Pages get ripped, board book get chewed, pages bent and smashed and heaven forbid a child rewrites the story in marker. Proactively, I teach the kids to be careful with the books. Intentionally ripping pages is a punishable offense around these parts.
However accidents happen and books get banged up. I'd rather have busted books that get read than a dusty, but pristine library. I have purchased a lot of our books at thrift-stores (Goodwill mostly) and yard sales. Knowing I only paid $.50 really softens the blow of a book destroyed.

We have books just about everywhere. The kids have a few favorites in their rooms and some live in the truck. The main place I keep them is our "family library". This is where most of the kids books live. My goal is to always have the books accessible. They are close to our main living area and easy to grab. If you have a crawling baby, keep a few in a basket down low.

Don't just make a place in your house for books though, make time for them too. Make time to read them together and time to read them alone. I love reading to my kids. Now that they are older, (4 and 2) getting through a whole book is no problem. Reading aloud is super important for early-literacy. I also try to have my kids sit down for "library time" during the afternoon. They choose a few books from our home library and sit quietly for a bit.

My last tip is to take advantage of your local library. We live in a teeny-tiny town and have teeny-tiny library. Even though it is small, there are tons of books and TONS of kids books. I often take the kids, which isn't always pretty. Be brave and don't feel too bad if you're kids are a little crazy. Most librarians are really understanding of this. The library is an incredible resource. It's a great way to try/read books before you buy them. I also love that my son can choose books according to his changing interests.

So read, and keep on reading. Remember that your long-term goal is to create a love for books in your child. Don't get too bogged down by the short-term goal of getting through a story. Worse, don't emphasize the short-term goal to the point that the long-term one is harmed. 

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