Today, as part of my Books are Brilliant feature, I have a guest post from The Swan Project discussing reading in her household. Her blog is wonderful so please do go over and take a look after you've read her post.
A love of reading is something my husband and I really wanted to pass onto our children, although in all honesty I haven’t read a “proper” book since they were born. Although I’ve always known that books are a learning tool I didn’t anticipate how much they help toddlers learn and develop.
There is a 15 month age gap between my children and prior to my son being born we didn’t have a regular reading time for my daughter. We read to her every now and then and she had access to books at nursery but we never really made a special time for it. Bedtime then was bath then bottle whilst we changed her (to keep her still), brush teeth then into her cot. Post number 2 coming along it all changed and without a doubt it changed for the better. Obviously at the end of the day they were both tired and both wanted attention to I switched to feeding the baby on our bed and reading books to my toddler at the same time, once he was old enough to bath with her we then all sat on the bed after bath time and read together. I have previously blogged about how this is without a doubt my favourite time of the day as we’re together as a family and teaching things to our children.
Most of our bedtime books come from the library although we do have a vast collection of books at home. I think for sanity’s sake it’s nice to have a change! When we first started this routine we found books like “That's not my... car, tiger, fairy etc” were brilliant for her age (around 18 months), there were things to touch, point at, find (the mouse that is hiding on each page) and suddenly you find yourself going from just reading a book to asking questions about the book and this is where I was surprised about how much they learn. We went from just reading a book to asking our daughter lots of questions such as pointing to where certain animals were, then getting her to repeat their name, then what sounds they make etc, I really didn’t expect her language skills to improve so much from our bedtime reading! One of my favourite times was when my husband taught her what crocodiles do; “snap, snap, snap” along with hand actions! Seeing them do this together was so sweet and I could also see the immense pride that my husband felt knowing he had taught her something that night. It’s so good for their bond having these moments where you know that they have just learnt something.
As the children get older the books that are appropriate for them are changing. My son is now 9 months so we get some touchy feely books for him and tell him what animals there are on the page etc and my daughter, now 2, has some books with a bit more of a story in them although sometimes picking these up from the library can be hit and miss as sometimes they are too advance / too long and sometimes the books are too young! But we still read them and ask questions etc and she’s still learning from them all the time. Over the past few months I would say our favourite books have been the “That's not my...” series, Dear Zoo, Spot and Maisie books and I have to confess to immense pride when we go into the library and she shouts “Spot Mummy!”, “Mummy, Mummy, it’s Maisie!”. We also have some Julia Donaldson books in the house and of course the Gruffalo is read but my favourites are actually Monkey Puzzle and Tiddler as they are brilliant stories, we read these ones again and again! We have also found some Julia Donaldson sound books which are really good for 2 year olds as they recognise the symbols and press the correct buttons, I love books where they can interact like this and find that it keeps their attention a lot longer.
It does feel like we’re passing on a love of books to our children which hopefully will continue for many years. Having the bedtime routine we have has been really rewarding for all of us and our family bond as well as having the benefit of teaching new things which I think is something we can be proud of. As parents you learn that nothing stays the same for long but hopefully we can keep this routine going for many years.... Here’s hoping anyway!!