Parent’s Corner Extra :Reading is Playtime !

Book Festival!

My son gets read to a lot, he didn’t always like books books though. As an infant he would happily read along with me, swatting at bright colors in the illustrations and mimicking silly sounds I made to keep his attention when he was digging to nurse instead. We did a lot of reading while nursing too – sometimes I would read my books , other times I’d balance a copy Babar or Madeline on the boppy just past his head while we both multi tasked.

Then it happened, he started walking and playing and didn’t want to sit for books except for right before bed. He’d grab a book sit in my lap , we’d read 2 pages and he’d slam it closed and sign “Done”. I’m a patient mom, but that really bugged me. I would patiently grab another book and the slamming and dramatic “DONE” ( I imagined he was screaming the sign) would continue.

In time he started sitting for a book here or there, and by 18 months would easily sit for one or two but never more than that. I knew he was young and I was over thinking things but isn’t that what I do best? Some parents want their child to be a major league pitcher, all I wanted was for my son to love books was I asking too much?

Then one day when he was about 2 we were stuck at home due to weather and I went into his closet grabbed a huge stack of books and we had our first “Book Festival” . We locked ourselves in my bedroom, sitting a top my big bed where there was nothing to distract my son and we read 20 books.

I kid you not. 20.

He was well past signing at this stage having a pretty good vocabulary for a 2 year old but when I would close a book his signing came out again, not the sign for “done” like he did 6 months earlier, instead it was “more” and “please” he said the words as well but he was so excited he busted out his signs to show me just how badly he wanted more!

My whole point isn’t to say that I was being neurotic and putting unrealistic expectations on him ( which are both true) but it’s to say that I was approaching reading the wrong way for him. I always say to parents “Let your kids lead” with toddlers and young preschoolers their interests should lead the way. We as parents should jump on their interests and capitalize learning within that frame work. I wasn’t taking my advice at all. I was sitting down and saying it’s reading time, instead of making reading playtime.

Now we have book festivals at least once a week, sometimes much more. We read 5 books some days and others seem to go on forever! I always start with a huge stack of books and show him each one, he gets to choose which to read and which to pass up. I try to doctor the piles with more advanced books , or ones he’s vetoed during previous festivals but he’s figured it out and will often say ” No mama, I no want that last time.” I still keep trying, but we keep it fun and now reading is playtime.

Need book recommendations for your first festival?
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PhD in Parenting
They are hosting a Carnival of Play where they are devoting the first two weeks of April to discussing the importance of play in our children’s lives.