Thursday, September 27, 2012

Passing On A Love For Reading

After reading to Sophie at bedtime last night, I was overcome with happiness.  Reading to her has always been my favorite part of the day. She savors books the same way I do. Lately, she's been slowly learning how to read herself.  It is SO EXCITING!  As I prepared for bed myself, I kept thinking about all that I've done in her six years to foster a love of reading.  I see lists from other people all the time but I wanted to make one of my own.  First, I went back through thousands of photos from Soph's birth to the present and I just had to put them all together in a post dedicated to reading.  I can't believe it's taken me this long!

Sophie at 3 months ~ books were ALWAYS a big part of her life.

At almost 4 months ~ SO EXCITED to read a new Bear book to Sophie.  A gift from Grandma. The Bear series, by Karma Wilson, is truly one of my favorites.  I love to do a different voice for each character.

Tio Diggy reads to Sophie (8 months) ~ one of our all-time favorites, Hippos Go Berserk.  We love you, Sandra Boynton

One of my favorite presents EVER ~ from Tia Jenny & Tio Diego ~ for Soph's 1st Birthday ~ FLOTSAM!  I've since given it as a gift for other children many times!

Sophie enjoying the Book Center at school.  13 months.

Sophie enjoys her personal library.  Almost 2 years old.

Truly one of my favorite pictures. Bedtime reading. Just before Soph's 2nd Birthday.

Reading to Sophie at breakfast while on vacation in Hilton Head. On Sophie's 2nd Birthday.

I don't think we've had a single birthday or holiday when Sophie did NOT receive books as gifts.  Here, she plays with the new books she received for her 2nd birthday.  I don't believe in buying a lot of toys for my kids but I spoil them absolutely rotten with books.  You can never have too many!

Reading on the balcony one morning on that same vacation.  Wow do I look tired!!!  I made the decision to leave work while on this trip ~ it was weighing HEAVILY on my mind and I probably wasn't sleeping much.

Fast forward a few weeks and we come to a series of photos that I ABSOLUTELY ADORE. Don't ask me why.  It was one of my first full days of not working.  As you can see, I'm already more relaxed.  I'm including this photo because I think the only way to pass along a love of reading is to model that for your child.  For years Sophie would ask me, "Mommy, why do you love reading so much?" Over time I've given her a thousand different reasons.  She doesn't ask anymore because I think she gets it.  I also believe you can read any time in any place. As all of these pictures suggest. At bedtime. In the morning. During meals. In the car. With a glass of wine in hand.  Surrounded by all three of your babies, human and furry!   (smile)

Discussing our favorite part of the bedtime story.  Almost 3 years old.

Just when I was starting to feel REALLY bad that I'd never taken a picture of Alain reading to Sophie, this one popped up.  Whew.  Just over 3 years old.

Alain reads to Sophie while she enjoys an afternoon snack.

Sophie enjoys a new present.

Alain reads to Sophie in a bookstore.  3 1/2.

A peek at my bedside table and then Sophie's.  Summer 2010.

Grandpa reads to Sophie on the day of her 4th Birthday Party.

Sophie reads to Hubbell. She was 4 1/2 years old.

Sophie and I model one of my all-time favorite children's books.  Crepes by Suzette....written by Monica Wellington.  We like to make books come alive and we did so on this day by making the same exact crepes as in the book.  We tasted each one as we read its corresponding page.  Such a fun little event!  If you've never seen or read a Monica Wellington book, get thee to a library or bookstore PRONTO.  This was the Summer of 2011 and I was largely pregnant with Clara.

For Mother's Day of last year, I requested some time alone out in the yard to read.  In that below picture, I think my thoughts were along these lines, "Maybe if I ignore them they'll go away!".  Ha! Just another example of modeling my own love of reading.....

Sophie shares a baby book with her little sister. Sophie, 5. Clara, 2 months.

I LOVE that I've put all these pictures together in one place.  They make me really happy.  It may be too soon to tell but, if Sophie should turn out to have a love for books and reading, I would consider that a crowning achievement in my life.  Okay, so on with my list....

1. Model your own love for reading.  I read ALL THE TIME.  Whatever I can get my hands on. My child barely sees me watch TV but she sees me read constantly.  I think that's important. It would be tough for me to expect her to read a lot if I didn't do it myself.

2. Read to your child every single day.  I have to sign a calendar each day for Sophie's school teacher saying that I read to her for 10 minutes.  Pah!  That's kind of insulting.  10 minutes is barely enough time to get into a good story.  We read for much longer. But I think any time is better than none.

3. Involve the entire family.  I love that we had a few pictures of Soph's relatives reading to her.  I hadn't thought about that before but it's so nice.

4. Think outside the box.  As I mentioned before, read in unlikely places. On a picnic. At the beach. In the car. While eating meals. Out in the yard.

5. Ask your child a lot of questions about the book/story.  What do you think will happen next? Why do you think that happened?  Will she or won't she?  Did you like that book?  Why or why not?

6. Go to the library and/or bookstore often.

7. Find a good source for used books.  We have quite a lot of used books in our collection.  Our library sells used books and I find pretty good ones at Goodwill and consignment stores.

8. Make books come ALIVE.  We often cook food that we read about in books.  Like the crepes example before.  Or we made pizza when we read about Curious George making pizza. We'll also visit places we read about in books.....the ice cream parlor, the movie theater, the park.

9.  We have books for every holiday or occasion.  If we had a trip planned, I'd check out books about that place/city beforehand and read them before we left.  I've also often purchased a book  about the city while we were visiting.  Before Clara was born, we read a bunch of books about little siblings.  Before school started, we read a lot of books about that.  Sophie especially liked the school books ~ I think it helped her mentally prepare herself for the change.  We read gardening books in the Spring and "green" books before Earth Day.  I try to make our reading material relevant to what's going on in our life.

10. Make your family & friends aware that you'd prefer book gifts over toys.  We've found it handy to have a Wish List available on Amazon.  When someone asks for present ideas, I just refer them to that page.

11. Make your own books.  Let your child pick the topic.  Make a dedication page.  Write the words for them (if they're not able) but let them draw the illustrations.  Soph LOVES this.

12. Let the child pick the book to read on a regular basis.

13. Discuss the author and illustrator.

14. We often discuss the differences in styles of illustrations.  Sophie is quite artistic and visually inclined so she really gets into this.  We also choose our personal favorites ~ I particularly love Knuffle Bunny and the style of Monica Wellington (the Crepes by Suzette book is especially nice!).

15. We sometimes watch TV shows and/or movies that are based on books we've read.  Heidi is a good example.  I bought the book for her on a trip to Switzerland and we've watched many different versions of the movie.  We then discuss the similarities and/or differences compared to what we'd imagined as we read the book.

16. Have books readily available. We have books in Sophie's room, in the car, by the toilet, in every room.  We also schlep books with us when we go on trips.

17. If you're able, go to your child's classroom to read to the class.  I love doing this!  On occasion I was able to let Sophie choose the book to read to her class.  She would get so excited!

18. Find a good source for books.  One that you like.  I use Mighty Girl and I am a HUGE, HUGE, HUGE fan.  All of the books we've read from that site have strong female characters.  I've read some amazing books that I would not have known about otherwise.  Check it out if you can!

I could go on but really.....nobody is still reading anyway.  Ha!  I feel very passionately about this, clearly. I realize working parents don't have the time to do a lot of these things.  I know, I've been there.  To that I just say do what you can.

PS ~ We're trying to kickstart Clara's love of reading and, so far, she loves her books. Here she is at 3 months doing some tummy time while looking at her sweet little baby book, a gift from Abu.  At least this time around we'll have a little help from Big Sissy!


  1. "Nobody is still reading anyway"...I dare to differ with you!
    What a GREAT post! And I could have written this myself really, it is so much what I have done with my son. And like you, I laughed at signing something that said that I had read to Christopher for 15 minutes a day, what a laugh!
    Of course, we read much more than that! Now, here is the thing, he has always been a brilliant student and he still LOVES to read. He reads books for pleasure, besides all the reading he has to do for college. So, I think people should pay more attention to us, don't you think? (Even before I had my son, I always gave books as gifts to my nieces and nephews!)
    And one of C's favorites as a baby was "Moo, Baa, La, La, La" by Sandra Boynton!
    Keep writing, dear Audrey, and you need to send this in to a school or Parent's Magazine or something, it's a well written piece!

    1. Hi Dear Kay! You are such a sweetheart. I knew you were probably a similar Mom. I'm glad to hear that Christopher still loves to read ~ that is so awesome and I know you're proud. I think this definitely takes the cake for my longest post (thanks for finishing it out!) ~ I had to force myself to stop writing. I was so excited to do this post that I stayed up half the night looking for pictures and then writing. I do like my list better than all the others I've read but I seriously doubt I'll be published. Thank you for saying it's a well written piece though ~ I'll take compliments at any time ~ it's very sweet of you.

    2. You spent a lot of thought and time on this and it is something that we know a lot of people don't realize: the importance of reading to children, even BABIES. Promise me you will think about writing this up and getting it out there. DO NOT DOUBT, BUT BELIEVE.


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