Saturday, April 26, 2014

How I Got my 18 Month Old Interested in Books

Apparently reading requires a safety helmet. ;)
We established a reading routine. We read many books immediately after breakfast every morning. We also read books before her nap and before she goes to bed. This was something we did from day 1, she was teeny-tiny but we read to her anyway, pointing out pictures, ooooo-ing and awwwww-ing, interacting with the book. 
3 months old
The mentality, "She's too young for this!" never entered into our mind. Do not underestimate the power of reading to your child early. If you're enthusiastic about reading, your child will follow suit. (My little Bean is living proof!) I was surprised how early we saw results.

When she brings me a book I stop whatever I'm doing to read it to her, even if it's for the 100th time that day. Reading will always be a top priority in this home. (I think the stupid book Baby Feels has the record for "read most often" in this house.) Yes, there are many moments I have to do a mental attitude check because, quite frankly, I don't want to do it. But it's the one thing I make a priority even on a day full of things to do. There are moments, however, I lay the book aside and say, "Let me finish _____ and then I'll read with you."

There's a reading nook in her room. Before she received an overstuffed Minnie Mouse chair for Christmas, she LOVED having a blow up turtle as her little seat. Cute. Giving her a place to enjoy books was the best thing we could've done.

After our breakfast reading time I give her the books we read together while I read a book of my own. I love this because I can read my book of choice! It's so cute to be reading on the couch next to my daughter as she jibber-jabbers about the book in her hand. Sometimes I'll hear a word mixed into the jabber, like "cookie" in If You Give a Mouse a Cookie or "out" in Itsy Bitsy Spider or "appy" (happy) in If You're Happy and You Know It. On the weekends Daddy joins us. Showing enthusiasm for reading in your own life will be contagious. Parents are the biggest influence even with things like this!

We attend the story hour every Wednesday at the Library. She's still learning to sit still and listen, but it's a change of scenery with other kids with someone else reading to her including play time and a craft. Afterwards I always pick out new books to take home while she plays.

I pick out books with specific words she already knows or with things she's showing interest. Right now she's obsessed with roosters, which she calls "do's" (cock-a-doodle-doo) so I find as many books as I can with roosters. She also enjoys farm animals and songs! She LOVES Iza Trapani's song books for classics like I'm a Little Teapot and Itsy Bitsy Spider.

I put interactive books on my phone and iPad. What's not to love about this? Playtales is a fun app and so is any FisherPrice book. This is perfect entertainment while traveling or while I am busy making dinner.

When I bring a little bag of things to do, the majority of the items in it are books. This bag of goodies is pulled out at restaurants, the vehicle, a friends house, &etc. It's always fun to pull out the bag and let her sort through it. Sometimes a friend will join her.
She's 6 months old in this picture with our friend Kirk.
We limit screen time to less than an hour a day. Sitting in front of the iPad (even with interactive books) or TV (even educational shows) limits creativity and imagination. We put together puzzles, play with blocks, read books, go to the park, (whatever) and she also has plenty of time to play and read independently. I'm always pleasantly surprised how often she picks reading during these times.
My 12 month old with a trail of books. 
My first job as a teacher was 7th and 8th grade reading and I also taught struggling high school readers as well. The struggling readers were usually the students who's parents ignored the importance of reading to their child from the start. They didn't have memories of reading with an adult. They didn't have parents who gave a lick about reading themselves or set aside a specific family reading time. Reading was never a priority in the home. If I were to make any suggestion that'd be it: make reading a priority. There are SO MANY ways to do that.

There are many sources I'd recommend for parents but this book is by far the best I've seen:
Check out her blog full of wonderful ideas for teachers and parents alike:

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