Thursday, February 25, 2010

1000 Reasons to Read to Your Poppit

I've always loved reading as far back as I can remember; as a child I'd borrow the maximum 6 books allowed from the library and have to return them for more sometimes within the week! Oh, the happy hours I spent curled up in my room with 25c worth of mixed lollies and Enid Blyton's Magic Faraway Tree...

Sadly, reading has sort of fallen by the wayside over the last couple of years, at least the sort of reading I truly enjoy. Now, titles like "Secrets of the Baby Whisperer" and "What to expect the First Year" adorn my nightstand and I scan but a few pages before my weary eyes close on another exhausting day of motherhood!

I must admit that when Fern was born I had good intentions to read to her immediately. But my intentions fell by the wayside as the reality of the first few months with a newborn made me realise quick smart that reading was now a luxury, not a recreational pastime! Suddenly, almost anything was preferable to sitting reading to a baby who seemed to have no idea (or interest) in what I was doing.

Then, I read something (I think it was on the back of a cereal box, or somesuch, which says a lot about how much my reading has deteriorated!) that stated that a child must have 1000 stories read to them before they learn to read. 1000 stories!!! Even if this was only half true, 500 stories is still rather a lot!

Almost immediately, I resolved to start reading to Fern. I decided to work this into her sleeptime routine, with one story read to her before each sleep (in Fern's case, 3 stories per day). At first, this seemed an awful lot of stories, and I'll admit I was a little bored for the first week or so whilst I acclimatised to our new routine. But Ill admit, over time the reading became more enjoyable and now, months later I think I look forward to our storytime as much as Fern does!

Initially, it seems as though your child has absolutely no idea what you're doing and in fact, Fern would grizzle throughout the whole story until she got her milk which was in her mind the only important component of her sleep routine. But gradually over time, she began to demonstrate a more active interest in the stories, until one day she began turning the pages for me. Now at 13 months, Fern jabbers throughout the book, turns the pages, points at things she sees and genuinely seems to enjoy our regular storytime.

I try to choose stories with just a sentence per page and lots of clear, bright illustrations. Our favourite books at the moment are from the Spot hardcover series. Fern adores these books, and loves to lift the flaps on each page, following Spot the dog on his adventures. I secretly like these books too!

3 stories per day x 365 days = 1095 stories. By this calculation, Fern should be reading by two years old?!? Either way, I reckon Im giving her a great introduction to the absolute joy of reading, and one which will hopefully stay with her throughout her life... and that's good enough for me!

Do you faithfully read to your little poppit? What stories does your toddler adore?


  1. Totally agree....and went through the same motions....was super enthusiastic and eager to ensure that both little jacq and I were dedicated book worms...but does fall by the wayside...however now that he is a little older...we are back into the swing of things and he really enjoys reading time..even though he wants to flick through the pages quicker than mummy can read the first line....he will go over the same book at least 3 times..and each time point out certain things in the images and I will just tell the story in my own words...he loves when I just talk to him and tries to communicate back with lots of babble...hubby makes a real point of it now...even during the day...not just before bed ( being a teacher) he really wants for Jacq to enjoy the whole process of reading.
    I think its so important to their development....and just because they cannot read the words..or understand the story line..the pay attention to the way the story is told...the tone of your voice...mellow...or excited..the words you sounds out...everything.
    Even when we are not reading to Jacq..he loves to go to his bookshelf and pull them all down...and just go through them all scattered on the floor...and I love watching him do can see which ones intrigue him more..which ones seem to be his favourite books to read.
    Whats really disappointing is that they are so darn expensive some of them...for really good kids books...and I generally shop at Borders for are paying no less than $20 -$30 each book...and really...when I shop for books for Jacq I want to come home with at least it adds up. So for birthdays...I love t give books...and for gifts for Jacq..I always ask for books he will never tire from them and are so its a great gift to give and receive.

  2. Hey Nic,

    You may not believe this but I have just become so very passionate about reading too! I am reading about reading, and reading to the kids, and teaching them to read.

    I'm back to homeschooling Isabella, so this has fueled me. It started with 'how do I teach phonics?', and has led me to great discoveries and ethusiasm and given me goals.

    For the last couple of years my main goal has been to get them to love it, keep it fun. Make it comfortable, relaxed, and let them be involved. (ie. influenced by author Mem Fox).

    Now, I have discovered the importance of what we read with them and how this will impact their futures. So now I try to find 'real' books to read with them. Ones that are well-written, and don't necessarily rely on pictures. I'm on a search for the classics.
    Bright, sickening, over-the-top books really started to get to me, and I hated that they insulted my childrens intelligence; their comprehension, understanding, and ability to use their own imaginations. Besides not building up their own language skills. No dumbing down for them anymore.

    (I am also being influenced by Classical Education methods that seems to be making a comeback)

    I know I am a few years ahead of you in the developmental stages. But I got so tired of being bored when I read to the kids. I didn't like it as a late night chore before bed. We all love reading time now and do it quite a few times a day together whenever we get the opportunity. They beg for it.

    (Just had a successful Ebay purchase of about 70 books. In it I have about 20 Enid Blyton books.)

    My latest purchase was quite by fluke. I picked up 'The Velveteen Rabbit' at The 'Book Warehouse'. Apparently a classic, but in my lack of education I'd never heard of it.

    I would welcome to hear any children's book reviews that you may do in the future.

    Hopefully before long you'll also be loving the books you read together - and not to mention that quality time of sharing something so special together. And it will stay lifelong with Fern.

    Love Katie.

  3. I can relate to every bit of this post!! I used to always end my day with a good book in bed, and since having Grace, my precious reading time is very scarce! I too freaked out when I read the 1000 books before they read thing but I have found that incorporating it into my daily routine helps. Love the photo of you and Fern - The Green Sheep is Grace's favourite book, in fact we read it every morning and without fail she laughs when we get to the 'band sheep' page :) At first, reading to her was a struggle but now she too enjoys turning the pages and pointing things out. Haven't seen the hardcover Spot books but will definitely keep my eye out for them.

  4. Anna - I totally agree about how expensive children's books are; esp when many of them are less than 10 pages!! The good ones for real littlies are all around $15-16 which I think is ridiculous when I've finished reading it to Fern in 3 minutes! But the real cheap books are kind of crap, and Golden Books are too old for us at this stage, and my husband has a 'thing' with second hand books and toys (bc he knows what OUR child does to her stuff and its not pretty) so we pretty much suck it up at this stage. P'aps I should start a book co op in my mother group?

    Katie, totally agree with you too, tho I am not adverse to bright over-the-top books at the mo, they are Fern's favourites! I can't wait til we can start reading 'proper' books though, and I have a bunch of vintage hardcovers that I had when I was a child, plus some beautiful fairy tale books she has been given. But those are all years away I think... are you going to keep homeschooling when the new bub comes???

    Amanda, I just bought the Green Sheep book, but Fern isnt really impressed?! Maybe I'm not reading it right, she gets bored halfway through! Perhaps she inherited my short attention span...



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