Friday, March 12, 2010

The importance of reading to little ones

While I was trying to find an important document to take to the kids' doctor's appointment today, I noticed Eric was really quiet somewhere in the house. Jasmine was at my parents' house and she and my mom were going to meet us before we went.
I was so busy trying to find this document, that I didn't bother to go see where Eric was, even though I was a little worried he might be getting into trouble. Minutes passed, and I finally decided to go see the reason for such silence. I checked in the kitchen and he wasn't there. Looked in the computer room and nothing. Then I went to check in Jasmine's room and to my surprise, he was right there sitting in Jasmine's reading corner looking at books. I just kept observing by the door without him noticing me. He was turning the pages slowly and was very concentrated. I just smiled.

(This is Jasmine's reading corner).

I love the fact that my children are so hooked on books, like it's something magical to them. Every night when Jasmine lays down on her bed she says, "Mamãe, conta historinha!" which in English means, "Mommy, tell a story!" Her new favorite is "the owl story" as she calls it, but it's really called "Vidinha Boa" which means "Good Little Life".

I know that most of you have children from the ages 0-5, right? So what kind of books do you read to your children? You read to your children, right? Right????

Well, sometimes us new mothers can be quite clueless about some things and that's okay; babies don't come with an user's manual.
I can say I was totally clueless to this subject before I took a children's literature class and read an amazing book called The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. And today I would like to share with you a little bit about the importance of reading to your children from when they're first born.

So let's start with this question: Which book is better for infants?
Since infants don't really concentrate and understand what you're reading, I would say WHATEVER you're reading. Even if it's one of the Twilight series' books or a magazine. Read it while you're nursing, whatever! But do read aloud. The child will get accustomed to your "reading voice" and if you do it while nursing, cuddling, rocking, or feeding your baby, they will associate it with a relaxing-happy moment. You can also read them books with rhymes and colorful books because they will stimulate hearing and sight. A book I really like (and Jasmine used to ak me to read it to her over and over again) is The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss. I read it so much I ended up memorizing it. Rhyming books are also a wonderful tool to help children with their reading skills later on.

Here's another question for you mommies: What is normal behavior by the infant or toddler during the readings?
(This also varies from child to child, but most children act this way. If you're new at this reading aloud ordeal, this might help you). This is all directly from the book:
  • At four months of age, since he has limited mobility, a child has little or no choice but to listen and observe, thus making a passive and noncombative audience for the parent, who is probably thinking, "This is easy!"
  • By six months, however, the child is more interested in grabbing the book to suck on it than listening (which he's also doing). Bypass the problem by giving him a teething toy or other distraction.
  • At eight months, he may prefer turning pages to steady listening. Allow him ample opportunity to explore this activity, but don't give up on the book entirely.
  • At twelve months, the child's involvement grows to turning pages for you, pointing to objects you name on the page, even making noises for animals on cue.
  • By fifteen months and the onset of walking, his restlessness blossoms fully, and your reading times must be chosen so as not to frustrate his immediate interests.
I used to love sitting on a rocking chair with Jasmine when she was about 2-5 months old and just reading away. Book after book. She was such a good baby and most of the time she would just sit there, listening to my voice and looking at the pictures.

There are many, many (or should I say countless??) benefits from reading aloud to your children (and we'll talk more about this next week). If you haven't already, start now! Start early! If you are pregnant, start a children's book library right away! You don't need to buy tons of expensive books. Start with one that you love and go from there. And there's alwayays the library too, so there are no excuses. You can even find some at the thrift store in good condition.
My mother-in-law gave me this website (click here) a few days ago and told me that a friend of hers buys books from them. There are some great deals, you should check it out!

So to give you guys a head start...Here are a few rhyming books that I LOVE:

  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by bill Martin, Jr.

  • The Napping House by Audrey Wood

  • The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss

  • There's a Wocket in my Pocket by Dr. Seuss

There are so many more I could put on here and I will if you guys want me to. But first I want to know what are some of your favorite books for babies and small children. Do share!


Paty said...

Aline, I totally agree on the importance of reading to your children, however, sometimes kids are not into books as much as others. That's when we need to remember that our children are all different and shouldn't get frustrated about it. My experience has been sorta how you listed on this post. At first when they were a few months old, they were mesmerized (the pictures) by the books I read to them. I picked the most vivid books to read to them that I had on hand.

Later on, they moved on to trying to chew board books (teething time). They never really got patient while I read, instead, they wanted to wander off and explore the house together. There were a few books they liked, but not read, they were activity books and all they wanted to do was pull down the tabs on them.

In the meantime, I would see friends blog post with children younger than mine who seemed to be really into books and could sit w/ the parent for a really long time while they read. Sometimes I felt a little concerned but knew I shouldn't be (I kept telling myself, all children are different). Anyway, about 6 or 7 months ago, my girls finally started to show more interest on books, and just a few months ago, they did not mind sitting quietly while I read them a story. I knew they were finally getting to the point were they were enjoying stories read to them. I didn't want to loose any momentum so I ordered some Dora the Explorer story books. They love Dora, and I knew anything Dora would catch their attention even more. The books were a hit!!! I think they are wearing them out really fast cause they look at them constantly.

I pick different intervals throughout the day and sit down with them on each side and just read to them. I love reading to my children and I make books interactive. We move our hands a lot and make noises, the girls love it! They have fun while reading. I have lots of children's books from my days as a teacher. A lot of them are in Spanish, a few other are bilingual, and some are English only. At this point, I rather read the the girls in Spanish because I really want them to grasp the language. If the book is not in Spanish and it's one of their favorites, I translate it. If daddy wants to read to them in English, it's okay, but I do my best to only speak Spanish to them.

This comment is way too long. Again, I guess I just wanted to emphasize the fact that children are different. We should keep trying to read to them and eventually they will develop the interest and love for books at the right time for them. So don't get super worried if it doesn't happen right away. Your child will get there :)

Liesl said...

I love this post Aline, great reminder. I couldn't agree more with you :)

Anna said...

I always read to Thomas, during one of his stages he even destroyed a pop up book I had gotten him, but in a way I let it go because in his mind he was playing, and it was a book (but I didn't let it happen to any other books!).

Now Thomas loves books, he has a few favorites and will sit and flip through pages whenever he finds a book. He loves when I sit on the floor with him and read books to him,he will grab a book, give it to me, sit on my lat and then we will read.

Most books he just likes to flip through the pages and point things out. But there are a few that he likes to listen to the whole story.

Some of my favorites are: Where the Wild Things are, Mrs. Peters Picky Eaters, A Bad Case of Stripes,anything by Dr. Seuss, Rainbow Fish, The Big Kapok Tree.

Brasileiros: Rola Rola Tatu Bola, Mico Maneco (e o resta da coleáão), Você Troca, Menina Bonita do Laço de Fita, Reinações de Narizinho e todos os contos do Sitio do Pica Pau Amarelo.

Kika & Trevor Windhorst said...

I love reading to Olivia too, and so far she liked to flip through pages. i try to ask questions and point at things but I guess she's not ready for that yet.
When she was younger i chose books that had imagines but very little wording, that way I could improvise as the pages went through. evne though she can't ready, she loves books! she gets totally quiet going through one

I hope she will always like books!

Gloria said...

This topic is totally on my area, and I'm glad you have it in the blog. I have a bachelors degree in education and have been a preschool teacher for many years. I am now a parent educator and outreach worker in a program in the Granite school district here in Salt Lake City. Want to know th topic we talk the most about in parenting classes and home visits? Reading to your child! The benefits are too many to count, from language development to predictability of school successd and breaking the poverty cycle in low income, low literacy families. There are also many techniques to read to your child, but that,s a whole another story(or comment!)But the main thing is: keep doing it!!! You won't ever regret it! And your child will thank you later! And yes, children are diferent, get atracted by diferent things at diferent times! If someone wants to know more about the topic or have any questions that you think I might know the answer, feel fre to send an e-mail: