Thursday, March 1, 2012

Raising a Boy Who Wants to Read

Not only reading, but also checking out the Pantone Color of the Year: Tangerine.
Growing up, I loved to read, and it was definitely my mother who instilled this habit in me. Whether it be Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, the Little House on the Prairie series, Nancy Drew, or anything by Beverly Cleary, I have many, many memories of taking regular trips to the library and curling up with great books.

Prior to having Sammy, James and I would often talk about traits we wanted to pass down to our child. Reading was probably at the top of my list. I recently came across this article via Pinterest (rather ironic, as I wasn't actually reading online) and found it to have some good tips.

  • Read to your child starting from birth. I actually felt silly the first few times we did this to Sammy, as let's face it - a sack of potatoes doesn't provide much of a response. The librarian at our library then introduced me to a trick - lay down on the ground next to your baby, and hold the book above your heads while reading. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? It totally worked! (Once Sammy got over the trauma of me dropping the book on his face the first time I attempted this tip.) He was much less likely to squiggle around, and actually paid attention to the book! I also found that small board books, which are best for babies anyway, where much easier for me to hold up in the air.
  • Boys need to see the men in their life reading. James hasn't always been the biggest reader, but he has completely surprised with me taking this initiative upon himself. Reading a book (or five - those board books are short!) is part of Sammy's daily bedtime routine, and James is the one who will read to Sammy about 95 percent of the time. Not only will it help Sammy to love to read, but it's a really nice way for them to bond.
  • Don't be quick to say no to a type of book. Sammy is a bit young to have any sort of opinion regarding what books he wants read to him, but this tip has me totally thinking back to my babysitting years. My cousin was obsessed with all Bernstein Bears books, and every time I babysat her, that's all she wanted me to read. Do you know how long those books are?? And the ol' skip-the-page trick never worked with her. Sigh. I'm sure I'll have to work on this in the future.
  • Use books as a foundation for play. Upon completing a book, take it a step further and dress up as one of the characters, or cook something together that was mentioned in the book as one of my new favorite blogs mentions. Again, Sammy is obviously a bit young for this now, but it's a great tip to keep in mind.
Believe it or not, after seven+ months of being read to, I am starting to notice some excitement in Sammy when we pull out books to read each night, and he definitely seems to pay more attention as we read to him.

This book we received as part of his Kindermusik class is his absolute favorite. His eyes light up and he makes little breathless sounds as I'm about to read, and then smiles throughout the entire book. There are lots of animal sounds involved and very simple big bright images on each page. I seriously am about to sign up for another session of Kindermusik just so we can get another book!

Little Blue Truck is Sammy's other favorite, as well as one of our favorites to read. Again, many animal sounds are involved (and James likes to throw in a Southern accent for some reason), so I think that helps keep Sammy focused and excited. We read this to him almost every night. 

The Karen Katz books are also another favorite, specifically Where is Baby's Belly Button. I like them because they're interactive and teach about different body parts and objects - Sammy likes them because he can pull the flaps on each page. 

And finally, yesterday I was at the bookstore and got nerdily excited as they had the new Pantone board book, which is all about colors. Because yes, I think it's important that my seven-month-old know the difference between kelly green and chartreuse. Don't you?


  1. We read to our little guy all the time also, but I loved your tips and suggestions for making it even more interactive. And I'm totally buying that Pantone Color book - it's beautiful! We also really like all of the Sandra Boynton books, but they are also quite short. Happy Reading!

  2. He's a very lucky little boy!

  3. As a auntie and teacher I totally APPROVE of all the reading Sammy does!!! It will pay off in more ways than you know...

  4. I like the idea of laying down on your back to read. I will try it with my son tonight. He has been very squirmy while sitting on my lap.

  5. Nick has been reading to our Sam, too, since he was born. And I also love that he's really beginning to show interest in it. Of course, sometimes he really just wants to eat the books :) Susan Katz is a favorite in our house, too. Also, Sandra Boynton.