Thursday, March 01, 2012

More on reading to younger siblings

Chip celebrating Dr. Seuss' birthday with us
I've been continuing to work on building read-aloud into Chip's daily life -- I want him to grow to love books just like his big sister does.  My friend pointed out that her second daughter is introduced to much older books than her first one was, but she also has a hard time making sure she reads to her.  I think this is a pretty common issue -- the older sibling is able to vocalize their desires and the younger child can take a back seat to those demands!  So here are a few more ideas for teaching the younger child to love reading time.

1.  Let them move -- have you ever had your baby scoot away while you read to them?  Ahhhhh -- why not read why they jump in their jumperoo?  Yes, you may have to be loud (not a problem for me), but let's face it, you certainly are associating reading with excitement!  My kids have both been BIG jumpers, and they start kicking their legs in a jumping motion as soon as they see I'm putting them in it.  The other day we read 6 straight books while Chippy jumped and jumped and clapped and grinned and laughed -- and LOVED IT.  When I saw the pile we'd gone through, I was stoked.  He certainly had fun during that storytime!  

2. Make sure they get access to the pictures, even if it seems like they aren't really paying attention.  I have to consistently tell Susie to sit down and not block Chip's view of the book.  Like all things, she is learning that she is not the only person present who matters.  She is usually so excited about the book that she jumps up to see the pictures.  It's easy to mentally go "oh, he's not really listening anyway. . . " but it's a good pattern to set to teach the older sibling to include the younger one in reading time.  It's a good skill to learn for when they listen to a story in a classroom setting as well.

3. Help them learn to explore the book with their hands -- you may need to start this by putting something in their mouths.  The other day Chip sat on my lap and turned the pages while we read a short board book together.  He didn't stop to bite it at all!  I've always let him explore our books with his wet little teething mouth, but I read to him several times while he had his pacifier, and so he learned to look at the pictures while I read.  It's really exciting when kids start to look at the pictures and get it.  I let him rip up junk mail when it comes, just so he can explore the paper and pictures and the other day I noticed he was touching the faces of the kids on a fold-out postcard we'd gotten.  He recognized what he was looking at!  This takes TONS of practice!  And babies may have that ah-ha! moment at different points.  

Chip with Big Red Barn
4. Pay attention to their favorites -- I could have easily told you what Susie's favorite books were at 9-10 months.  But Chip reads. . . what Susie likes, pretty much.  And obviously that's not all bad, but I think it's good for me to see what stuff he likes to read and even choose books just for him at the library.  In honor of this, I'm going to add a column to my blog sharing his current faves, as I come across those.  Maybe your baby likes the animal books when you make all the funny noises.  Maybe he likes the faces, or the rhyming books you make into a song.  

5. Make literature available for their destructive little fingers.  We have piles of books everywhere, and I trust Susie to treat them well.  But since Chip isn't mobile yet, he can't just crawl over and choose a book from the bookshelf.  So I've been putting various board books and cheap/free books from kids' meals or even sometimes mail or other pictures/paper in a clear box that once had spinach in it.  He loves the box because it makes a crunchy/crinkly noise, and he can see in it, even if he's on his belly because it's clear.  This is my current method for making them available to him.  Something else may work well for you -- so get creative!

Here are the posts I wrote about reading to babies when Susie was little if it is helpful to you!

Part 1 -- which I wrote when Susie was 10 months
Part 2 -- which I wrote when Susie was 18 months

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