Wednesday, February 16, 2011
My Toddler Loves Books
I love seeing my daughter's love of books develop. I wrote an earlier post about how she came to love books (My Baby Loves Books), but I've noticed so many changes since then - as with anything in the time between growing from a baby to a toddler (Abbey is now just shy of two-and-a-half).
Aside from encouraging her to sit down and listen to stories, and teaching her to be gentle with them, I haven't given Abbey any 'instruction' about books. It's interesting, then, to sit and observe the natural steps she's taken in learning how to appreciate them.
I'm no literacy expert - just someone who loves books - but to me these steps seem so logical and important in a future reader's development.
Here's what I've noticed as the first steps in a child's reading life:
1. As a baby, Abbey would sit and listen to stories, although it took some persistence before she would sit and listen (read some tips here).
2. Then came the page-turning and touching (and chewing!) of pages - a baby's first interaction with these funny objects.
3. The stories got a little longer, and she asked for them again and again. Repetition has been the name of the game ever since, and she started having her clear favourites and those she just wouldn't - and won't - sit through.
4. The next thing I noticed was her beginning to interact with the telling of the story. This started with her talking about what was happening in the pictures and pointing to things as we read about them.
5. The next level of interaction was when I started leaving little gaps in the story; just little silences with the last word or a key word in the story - and she'd say it herself. Kids have such great memories. This is especially good with rhyming stories, as children start to sense a pattern and preempt what type of word is coming up (isn't it amazing how early they pick up on these things?!).
6. At about this point I started noticing (and it could have happened before this stage, but this is when it clicked for me) a real comprehension in storylines and phrases. For example, we'd read Oliver Jeffer's How to Catch a Star and the next time Abbey couldn't reach something she'd talk about wanting to 'jump up and grab it' (a line from the book). Or she'd take a word from a book that's not commonly used in day-to-day language and use it in the right context.
7. Another step towards longer books came, with her being ready for stories that are even longer again. She's now happy to sit through more detailed picture books and some longer books with less pictures (some Dr Seuss and Beatrix Potter books, for example).
8. And recently, another leap. She's begun taking a book and sitting either by herself or next to her dad or me, and insisting on 'reading' the story herself. She'll turn the pages and either make up little stories based on the pictures, or repeat a phrase that she knows (from repetitive reading of that story) comes on that particular page. It's so beautiful to watch - she puts on different voices, laughs, introduces the characters to each other and describes the things she sees in the pictures.
All of this has been prompted by Abbey; I'm purely going along with her lead and using nothing but instinct (although I've read books and articles on literacy, none of them talk about these steps; instead simply saying to read to young children lots, and leaving a blank between that and the formal process of learning to read). And Abbey seems to be developing a love of books in her own way and, even more importantly, at a point when she is ready for the next step.
It really is amazing.
Posted at 8:45 AM