Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Magic of Literature

Thank you for your baby name advice! As suggested, I will use the Internet to peruse name lists. This is a decision definitely worth some research. I don't want to have any misgivings.

In early August I wrote a post about reading to toddlers. A few months before writing it, I'd begun putting Emily in her crib for storytimes. Prior to that, she just wouldn't stay on my lap or attend to any book for very long. I felt like she wasn't getting enough literature.

When we first started the crib reading, I had to read one book while giving her another to manipulate. I guessed that she was an auditory and kinesthetic learner. Sure enough, I discovered that she was still attending to the text, even though she wasn't always looking at the book I was reading.

Starting a few weeks ago, she no longer needed or wanted to have a book in her hand while I read. She started attending to each page, without losing concentration. Now when I finish, she takes the book from me and goes through each page, wanting me to name all the pictured objects. Since she is still mostly non-verbal, this is her way of reading it back to me, I suppose.

Her receptive language is well developed. She'll point to any picture we name in any of her books, as well as to her body parts and toys around the room. She's been following one or two-step commands for a while. But her expressive language is slow in coming. She seems to have immature control over her tongue and lips, despite having no bottle and no prolonged binky use. All my children and their cousins began experiencing speech success around two years old, with one cousin needing until three. So far, no one in the family has needed a speech therapist. I hope that will also be the case for Emily; I'm watching her closely and the pediatrician seems unconcerned.

The increase in exposure to literature (about 6-12 board books per day) has really paid off! She now associates books with pleasure and last week started bringing us books during the day, and actually sits on our laps for them! She is also pulling books off of shelves, and sitting down and looking at them on her own. Despite the mess and that bending my pregnant body down to pick things up is getting uncomfortable, I'm absolutely thrilled at her interest!

Time and time again, though working with different children, it has been proven to me that it's the books themselves that do the magic. Our job is just to expose our kids to several or more books a day, reading them with obvious pleasure, using any method that works. Gradually, the child starts associating books with pleasure, and then, a book lover is born!

Books are amazing! They really are magical! I love their transforming power...their ability to delight, excite, entice.


Liz said...

True story -- we were at my daughter's 3 month checkup and I expressed my concern to the doc that Grace did not seem interested when we would read to her. The doctor looked at my husband and asked him if I was serious. I was. She calmly assured me that reading to her was wonderful, but it would take some time for her to learn to actually enjoy the process. I LOVE reading so much and I couldn't bare the thought that my child would not enjoy it too. Well, at 9 months my dear daughter began to crawl and her motivation was to get to a basket of books that I kept moving just a bit further away from her. When she finally reached the basket she dumped them all out on the floor to select her favorite. My heart smiled that day. She recently turned 6 and just started kindergarten and she's on the brink of reading. She spends hours each day with books. Either with us reading to her or just sitting by herself and turning the pages, looking at pictures and telling herself the stories. Each night she goes to bed with books and a flashlight. I am thrilled. I may have been a bit overzealous with reading to my newborn, but in the end she loves books and I'm confident she will be a great reader.

Hey Pam, thanks also for the recent post detailing how kids learn to read in different ways. That was helpful to me.

Fern said...

I LOVE reading. It was such an escape for me when I was a child, and now when I get a chance to read it is so relaxing.

Helena is almost 22 months, and her language has only taken off since the beginning of July. Before that she said *maybe* 10 words... hi, bye bye, baba (for pacifier), kids, mama, dada, kitty... and that was about it. Now she picks up a bunch of new words each day. This was later than my other kids had their big vocabulary explosions, but she does have three older chatterboxes to compete with. I had been a little nervous, but she has caught up so quickly and says hundreds of words now. (Just to give you another point of comparison for Emily. I bet it's the same -- she has the boys around all day, so she is probably just taking things in and her language will suddenly explode too.)