Reading with my boys

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It’s never too early to start reading with kids. I read Ameya (my youngest boy) his first book last week, when he turned 3 months old. We read a lovely book called Moo, Baa, La La La by Sandra Boynton. Siddhant picked this one out for Ameya because it used to be his favorite book for the longest time. I think my baby liked it…he stared at the pages and smiled as i read. Since then, we have been regularly looking at Moo Baa La La La as well as a couple of bath books.

By default, Ameya gets read to all the time. Right from when I was carrying him, he has been exposed to a range of kids’ books because my twins really enjoy reading. While Siddhant likes to sit with a book and have me read to him before bed, Nishant wants to read all day. I started reading to them when they were about 3 months old too and it is interesting to note how many of their pictures indoor are with books.

I started with a few Sandra Boynton books – Moo Baa La La La, What’s wrong little Pookie?, Belly Button Book. Till the boys were about 9 months old, Moo Baa was their absolute favorite. Boynton has a very fun and simple style of writing and the illustrations are adorable.

The boys also loved Brown Bear Brown Bear, What do you see? and Polar Bear Polar Bear What do you hear – by Eric Carle and Bill Martin Jr. These books went everywhere with us! They are again – simple, repetitive and therefore predictable with absolutely stunning illustrations. Also a great way to introduce kids to a lot of animals. In fact, I found them really useful because the kids were seeing some of the birds and animals around them and they would immediately make connections to the books!  My twins also loved books that provided a sensory experience – so, books with textures, sound, colors.

If you are planning to read with you kids, be prepared to read the same book over and over and over again, over days, weeks and sometimes even months. I found that my boys loved to read the same books till they had almost ‘mastered’ them. What is wonderful though, is that they continue to be excited, amused and fascinated by the story even though it may be the hundredth time we are reading it.

I don’t just read the story out to them. We spend a lot of time looking at images, meta-text, guessing, retelling. I did this because i enjoyed it but i realized how much the boys were getting when we saw an Eric Carle book at a friend’s place and the boys looked at the artwork and immediately said – “capertiller!!!” (referring to the Very Hungry Caterpillar). Nishant makes connections across books, connections between text and the real world and vice versa. It is fascinating to watch.

We have turned reading into almost a ritual…and it is funny to see how much the twins value this ritual. We have reading cushions in their room. So before we start, we prop the cushions up against the wall and sit down on the mattress leaning against our cushions. Then the boys get up and pick out what they want to read from the book tray. I usually sit in the middle and hold the book so both the boys can see. I started out with board books because i wanted my boys to be able to handle the books. So they would hold them, try to flip the pages, and sometimes drool on them and chew them. I never said NO to any of this because i wanted books to be something they found accessible, fun and theirs! I would (and still do) read and re-read and then re-read again as many times as they wanted me to. Soon they would finish my sentences for me. And then, when they were playing by themselves, they would pick out the book and ‘read it’ to themselves, often adding their own bits.

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It’s not like all kids want to read. While Nishant absolutely loves books and can spend big chunks of time being read to, Siddhant gets easily distracted and prefers quicker, shorter reading sessions. He sometimes wanders off in the middle of a read aloud, or says “all done!” and shuts the book. I try to continue reading if he is within earshot or in the room and will try to engage him by asking questions.  I don’t want to force him because i would like to keep reading a fun activity that the boys enjoy.

I am putting down a list of some books my kids love. They are currently 23 months old so some of the books in this list may not work for very small babies:

  1. Moo Baa La La La           Sandra Boynton
  2. Barnyard Bath                 Sandra Boynton
  3. Hippos go berserk          Sandra Boyton
  4. Belly Button Book           Sandra Boyton
  5. Pookie books                  Sandra Boynton
  6. The Going to Bed Book   Sandra Boynton
  7. Polar Bear Polar Bear      Eric Carle
  8. Brown Bear Brown Bear  Eric Carle
  9. From Head to Toe           Eric Carle
  10. The Very Hungry Caterpillar    Carle
  11. Draw me a star               Eric Carle
  12. The very grouchy ladybug      Carle
  13. The Wheels on the Bus (raffi)
  14. Five little ducks (raffi)
  15. One fish Two fish                  Dr. Seuss
  16. The Foot book                      Dr. Seuss
  17. Hop on Pop                          Dr. Seuss
  18. Cave Baby                            Julia Donaldson
  19. Gruffalo                                 Julia Donaldson
  20. Goodnight Moon                   Margaret Wise Brown
  21. The Runaway Bunny             Margaret Wise Brown
  22. Peek-a boo I Love You
  23. Peek-a-boo Sleepy Baby
  24. Squishy Turtle and Friends   Roger Priddy (cloth book with textures)
  25. Fuzzy Bee and Friends         Roger Priddy (cloth books with textures)
  26. Little Blue Truck                   Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry
  27. Where the wild things are     Maurice Sendak
  28. Happy in my nappy
  29. My new baby                       Rachel Fuller
  30. Head, shoulder, knees and toes   Annie Kubler

This is just a list to get you started. I will also start doing book reviews with reading suggestions and activities for this list.

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About myfourboysandme

Mom - a word that defines me... I smell of oats, johnson's and home baked cookies I am pink, purple, green and orange and so is the floor my kids color on. Flour on my clothes and a brush in my pocket, my glasses bent out of shape and smudged with tiny fingerprints. I can't remember the date but i know almost 40 pictures books by heart. I wake up humming 'wheels on the bus'and i talk with my fingers and eyes and mouth. My bag carries band aids, napkins, wipes, crayons, papers, candy and sometimes my wallet. I know all the parks and very few of the restaurants in my neighborhood. Most of my shopping is diapers, books and paints My phd certificate lies in a roll, the frame now contains an abstract work of art by two year olds and i am prouder of that piece of paper. mom - a word that defines me!

3 responses »

  1. You are an amazing mom. I just love the book list and it came handy when I was selecting books for my 2 year old. Would love to hear your thoughts on how you improve their vocabulary and have them talk a conversation

    • Dear SUJ,
      thanks for the feedback!
      In terms of vocab and conversation, here are some things that we do at home with the boys. For one, we started communicating very early through the use of signs. So, even before the boys actually started talking (verbally) they had started communicating. They started vocalizing for communication around 14-15 months. They started with a few words and sentences that comprised 2 words joined together. I feel that books helped a lot because we read everyday – in the morning, before nap time in the afternoon, before bedtime and sometimes in between 🙂
      so, the boys get exposed to a lot of vocabulary and since they love to read the same thing over and over for several days and sometimes weeks, they pretty much land up knowing those words from a particular book that we are reading. I encourage them to finish sentences from the book and they also do pretend reading. In the beginning, when they had just started talking, i would wait for them to verbally ask for something instead of just letting them point. Need to do this carefully without having them feel stressed or anything…lots of positive reinforcement like “good job, i like how you say that, oh, you remember that word!” etc. I rarely use things like treats or sweets for reinforcement.
      I also ask a lot of questions – who did you play with, what would you like to eat this morning, etc. It’s important to give them space and time to respond without feeling pressurized. Once they realize they can communicate with words they will be on a roll. I am still amazed at how they have moved from single word sentences to long strings of words and even humour!
      I also take walks with the boys and we look at stuff around us – cobwebs, trees, flowers, animals, stars, etc. We talk about what we see. I take the boys to buy vegetables too. We always stop and look at the vegetables, talk about the color and shape or size. I ask the boys what they feel like picking up.
      Then, when we get back, i ask them to tell dad or the nanny what they saw, what we bought, etc.
      It helps that there is two them because they are now constantly trying to talk to each other!
      Anyway, from what i have observed, speech is something that develops at different times and ways with different kids. These are just ideas to help create natural environments that can be conducive to speech development. Hope this helps.

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