Thursday, March 13, 2014

Reading Aloud With Your Child: The Kick Start to Learning

I come from a family of readers, so it was always important to me to read to my kids. We started reading to the girls from a young age, both were used to reading at least 2 books at bedtime well before their 2nd birthday.

At 18 months, Sebastian still has ants in his pants and won't sit still for a book. We try him out with a bedtime book periodically, but he gets frustrated very quickly with sitting still.

We don't want him to start disliking books, or dreading bedtimes, so right now we bring him into the room with Lorelei while we read to her instead. We use our funniest voices, and read the most engaging books, but we read them to her, and let Sebastian play on the floor with a car instead. In this way I hope to slowly gain his interest in the books.

The Monster at the End of this Book...It's a page turner

We like to read x2 books each night, and when we finish the 2nd one we give it to Lorelei to try reading it back to us. This is her favourite part, and she does an awesome job with a few of the books. It only takes a few renditions before she can tell the story, and it's so cute to hear her putting on voices like we do.

We kept up reading to our oldest daughter Madeleine for years after she learnt to read to herself. It was a nice bedtime routine, and meant that we could read more complicated books with her as she got older. The first time we opened a chapter book together I was so proud! Reading to our daughter when she was in primary school also meant that we could introduce more difficult words, talk about the books and how we felt about them. She knew I looked forward to reading the next chapter of a Wishing Chair or Narnia book as much as she did!

Those days of reading with Madeleine are long gone. At 13, she uses the last 30 minutes before bedtime as her reading time every night. Although we have gone through ages and stages where she has protested this enforced reading time, on nights when it is denied because we have stayed out late she is the first to complain that she can't sleep because she hasn't read!

It makes my heart sing when Maddy stands over me, excited about some new book she has been assigned at school, something she was reading for obligation but is finding herself engrossed in. She will chatter on endlessly, telling me all about the book, insisting I read it, issuing deadlines for when the book is due back at school. She cracks me up because she doesn't believe me when I tell her that some of her books were on my reading list too when I was in high school!

We honestly think reading to our kids gives them a better start in life. It gives them a love for stories, an appreciation for the distraction that unfolds on the written page, and helps with comprehension of the written word when they start school. Those squiggles mean something! It's also been a wonderful bonding experience with our girls, and I truly hope to find that quiet space with Sebastian one day, with books that intrigue him and catch his fancy too.

Our favourite books that get read over and over again:

The Monster at the End of This Book - By Jon Stone
Both our daughters have loved this book. Doing the opposite of friendly, lovable, old Grover's instructions cracks everyone up, and at the end of the book, the jokes on him! This was the first book BOTH girls ever read back to us.

There's a Hippopotamus on the Roof Eating Cake - By Hazel Edwards
This Hippo has been the explanation for all kinds of things in our house. Water pipes making scary noises? No, it's actually the Hippo sitting on the roof eating cake. Lorelei's dummy went missing? The Hippo took it!
The Hippo books have been favourite for generations.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Eric Carl
Who doesn't love a Caterpillar that eats everything in it's path? This pretty book with it's peepholes to the next snack is very engaging.

Guess How Much I Love You - Sam McBratney
The most beautiful bonding book ever. Lorelei showers me with little butterfly kisses when we read this book, it makes her feel very affectionate. You can't tell your kid often enough that you love them, and I tell Lorelei all the time that I love her to the moon and back.

When Sophie Gets Angry - By Molly Bang
Do you have a tantrum thrower in your house? We do too. All 3 of our kids have been known to throw huge tanties, and this was a book that both girls have been read. We let our voices run up and down the paragraphs, expressing anger loudly, and calming down with a soothing voice to discuss how Sophie manages her anger. Some of the phrases have been great for helping Lorelei calm down from a tantrum as she recognises the path that the phrase will follow and imitates according to the outcome in the story.

We can't say enough about reading aloud to your kids at every opportunity, besides giving them the best posible start to life, it creates opportunities for togetherness.

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