“As you read my stories of long ago I hope you will remember that the things that are truly worthwhile and that will give you happiness are the same now as they were then. Courage and kindness, loyalty, truth, and helpfulness are always the same and always needed.” ― Laura Ingalls Wilder
“Don’t just teach your children to read…
Teach them to question what they read.
Teach them to question everything.”
― George Carlin
“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”— Emilie Buchwald
Sometimes you just need to get out of the house. We had one of those days last week. After a long and fussy morning which ended in a much needed nap I was dreading what the afternoon was going to be like. I needed to get out, Ellie needed to get out; both of our sanity hung on whether or not we could find something to do…not in our house. And then it hit me in the head like a ton of bricks, and the answer to our problem was so obvious I should have hit myself on the head literally…the library!! Seriously! How have I not thought of this before?!? Sometimes I amaze myself with my great abilities…and my great oversights. So, when Ellie woke up from her nap it was on with the shoes and out of the door…with Baby in tow of course.
I rarely stop talking, so as we drove I explained to Ellie what the library was (and that I thought I still had a lost book fee from that Eric Carle book I took to my class that never made it back). I told her that we would not be losing any books that we borrowed…no more fees for us! She kept looking at me in her mirror like I was slightly crazy talking about all this nonsense. It’s ok, someday she will understand it all. For now, I will just keep talking her through the process. When we got to the library she insisted on walking inside by herself while holding her Baby. We had to stop to smell every “pritty” flower along the way with an emphasized “sniffffffffff”. We finally made it inside and were greeted by our awesome children’s librarian…who even after a year without me stopping by still remembered my name! Last time she saw me I was still pregnant, so she was excited to see Ellie, who of course loved the attention and interaction from someone other than mumma. After being cute and smiley for the librarian Ellie set right in exploring this new environment. The Lego Quattro table drew her attention and she spent nearly ten minutes manipulating the legos. If you arranged them in a certain way a light inside the display box would come on; Ellie thought this was simply fabulous and exclaimed “stars” “sky” “whoa!” everytime brightness filled the display and illuminated the pictures and legos inside.
After exploring the lego’s she moved on the the books. I talked her through how we don’t just rip every single book off of the shelf and helped her select a small pile of animal and airplane (her newest obsessions) books and we brought them over to the rocking chairs. She was too excited by the oversized Cat in the Hat and Winnie the Pooh to sit and read. She took them off the rocking chairs they were sitting in and arranged and re-arranged them. Then she sat in the red rocking chair, then the yellow one, then the red one, and switched between the two at least 20 times during which she kept demanding one or other of the stuffed animals or Baby. Finally she was pleased enough with whatever arrangement of chairs and stuffed animals she came up with to sit and look at her books.
I read a couple of the books to her, and she looked at some of them jibber jabbering away for each page. I love when she imitates reading; early literacy is so important. I started reading to Ellie when she was only a few days old. When she was old enough to sit up she almost always was surrounded by board books. When she stared to crawl she would bring books to whoever was around and climb into their laps expecting nothing less than to be read to. We eventually had to hide Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Doggies by Sandra Boyton because we read them at least 20 times a day; and I’m not exaggerating. I could repeated them word for word by memory. I love those books, but 20 times a day was too much for even this book lover. Anyways…Elllie seemed to thoroughly enjoy these new and unfamiliar books. But soon she began to explore the rest of this new environment.
She played with the blocks and puzzles, going back and forth between the two. I have to say that our children’s librarian is just awesome! Some librarians would be horrified to have a 17 month old cruising around their library, but our librarian was totally fine with it! She kept asking Ellie questions and pointing out new and interesting things for her. It was fabulous!
We built with the large cardboard blocks, which are always so much fun. Ellie would build a tall tower around Baby, knock it over, and then dramatic proclaim :”uh oh! Babyyyyyy! Uh oh!” and then rummage through the blocks to save her Baby. I don’t know where she gets her drama from…but from everything else she gets from me it might be safe to say she gets it from me.
Next she discovered the large Farm Rug in another part of the children’s room. She walked around pointing to each animal and saying their sounds. When she got a bit too loud I explained to her that libraries were not a place for being loud, and I put my finger on my lips to demonstrate softly talking. She loves when I do this and also put her finger on her slips and softly talks; it’s so cute, I have to say! Eventually she decided she wanted to lay down on the animals, so she did. And she scooted herself around on her back “woofing” and “quacking” as she went. We even got some gross motor in as well as literacy!
After over an hour of exploring and building and reading and talking we had to leave in order to be home in time to make supper. After a fussy, long morning this afternoon of exploring and reading was a great change! Sometimes I forget about the obvious solutions to problems; at least I seem to remember them eventually. Now we have a great place to visit this summer; we plan on going once a week, and Ellie is going to learn all about borrowing and returning and be exposed to new and interesting books (in addition to the bookcases that I already have). When she turns 2 she can attend the Story Hour program; I can’t wait for this. I loved Story Hour!
It might seem like 17 months is a little young to bring a child to the library…but I beg to differ. There are no rules saying the Library is only for children 2 and older (I checked!). The only rules are the ones that we make; and I refuse to deny Ellie the experience simply because some people may consider her too young. Early literacy is so important for future development. Reading to children before they are 1 is essential; children cannot learn to appreciate books if they don’t see them being appreciated. I have said before, and the research shows that children learn by modeling. Model reading, and I will venture a guess that your child will one day appreciate books. After all, each book takes you on a different adventure. Adventure with books…even if you’re only 1.