Friday, May 31, 2013

Reading in the first eighteen months... what and when?

From the beginning, N and I have spent time with books. He has held them, chewed them, tried to swim across his quilt toward them, laid propped up on our laps before he could lift his head and looked at them. 

When he began to turn the pages himself, I could hardly believe it. The first time he anticipated a coming page, the last in Goodnight Gorilla, by saying "zzzzzzz" for the sleeping gorilla, my heart did a happy dance. 

N has had pronounced taste in books from a very young age. He loved our black and white baby animals book in his first few months, and would transfer his affections from animal to animal, loving the baby dog one day, the baby otter another. 

Later, he loved Clifford. He would stare at the pages for long periods, and showed a pronounced interest for the one where Clifford and Emily Elizabeth have a tea party. 

He went through a long, long period where he loved to see baby's faces. I was a little surprised at the lack of such books at the library, but eventually found many wonderful ones through interlibrary lone. Baby Talk, Baby Faces, and Baby Faces Peekaboo were all huge hits for us. I would line the books up along the wall and he would point to the one he wanted to read next. 

After faces came touch-and-feel books. We read the whole Usborne line after finding "That's Not My Teddy Bear" at the library. We read That's Not My Penguin, That's Not My Dinosaur, and so many more. 

Next N loved books with pictures of things he was seeing every day. Books with pictures of fruits and vegetables, like I Like Fruit and I Like Vegetables and Eating the Alphabet were all big favorites. We read them many times over. 

These days I try to follow N's interests. Right now he is into dogs, and we have read "Good Dog, Carl" a dozen times this week. He also loves to eat berries, and we have fun looking for all the berries in Bruce Degen's lovely book, Jamberry. 

We tend to read right after breakfast every day. Sometimes N sits down with me to read, but more often he plays as I read, and comes over to see the pages every once in a while. Of course, before he could walk, he was a captive audience, but he usually seemed like a happy one. We would read before anyone else go up, laying on our backs on his quilt in the living room, four of five books on deck beside us. It was a peaceful and happy time. I always knew just what to do after he woke up in the morning, and it started our day off in a pleasant and reliable routine. 

We also like to read in the car. If my husband is driving and I am sitting with N, we read Eric Carle's Have you Seen My Cat or another board book. Sometimes N holds them, sometimes I do. It's a simple pleasure for us both. 

We also read before his nap and before bed. For a long time, I thought it was ideal to have a regular book so he would relax into the routine. Then one day as he tried to leap from my lap, I realized he might be getting bored! And indeed, after I started changing it up, he relaxed again. We like Llama Llama Nighty Night, Where Should I Sleep, Goodnight Moon and Guess How Much I Love You. I also often read N a board book I designed for him with pictures of our family in it. I titled it "We Love Nate" and each page shows someone who loves him holding him, with the words "__(name)___ loves Nate." I made it at My Custom Story after a lot of searching for a place to make a custom board book. N likes it a lot, and it is especially nice to be able to read if his dad is on a work trip or he has just had to say goodbye to his grandparents. It's a short book and usually the last one we read before he falls asleep.

N always has books around him - displayed on shelves or along the table or fireplace, tucked into the backseat pockets of the car, sitting beside our rocking chair in his room. He sees them all the time, and we read them every day. For me, as a new parent, reading has been a rock even when I didn't know what else to do. When the whole world was still dark and we were the only ones awake, our blanket and books were always there for us as the sun slowly lit up the living room. I hope books will always be a joy and a rock for N too.  

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