There is nothing more I enjoy than reading to my children. When Sydney (my eldest) was younger she would sit in my lap and have me read to her for hours. Her favourite stories were those hard cover stories that were designed for children of a certain age like my then 2 year old daughter. I would have to read the same story more than 20 times each.
Admittedly I became fed up and decided to get a little creative with the story. This is where I started using funny voices, or would ask questions about the story. What colour dress is Cinderella wearing? What kind of animal is Cushie Butterfield? Can you tell me how the character is feeling? Happy, sad, angry, annoyed, scared? The list went on.
After a while, Sydney became so good at identify colours, animals, emotions and even page numbers. I’m sure most mothers can relate to becoming so annoyed with reading the same story every single day that the book suddenly becomes ‘lost’. This happened to Cushie Butterfeild, those hard cover Disney books and even Giggle and Hoot. The books eventually came back out again, it just took a year or so.
At the moment I am currently studying language development in young children and found so much information on why children should have be read to on a daily basis. It teachers children so much more than how to speak, but helps is a starting point for word recognition as well as teaching the semantics and grammar of oral language. How are children going to know the proper characteristics of word order and the meaning of words if you do not read to them?
When Summer (my youngest) was 2 years of age and showed no interest in reading or sitting in my lap and listening I will admit I became a little worried. What if she is one of those children who has no interest in reading? The possibility of delayed language development and becoming illiterate was kinda scary. Today I now realise those thoughts were absurd and I really had nothing to worry about.
Summer’s favourite show right now is Peppa Pig (has been for over a year), so I decided to get her a few Peppa Pig stories. At the beginning there was still no interest in me reading to her. I would start the story and before I knew it she was off playing somewhere else with her big sister or requesting a piggy back ride. I became so annoyed with my failed attempts that I gave up.
About a month ago, Summer handed me a book and asked if she could have a bedtime story. I thought I would humour the child and started to read to her. Surprisingly she stayed in the one spot until the end, then asked for 3 more (because that’s how old she is). Four weeks later and I’m still reading to her and gone off the Peppa Pig books and onto other titles such as My Daddy Ate an Apple, The Very Cranky Bear, Rudie Nudie, More Pants and Upsy Down Town.
Even more surprising is she is now attempting to read to her self. I have read the same stories so many times she knows how the story goes. Did you know one of the reasons children like to read the same stories and watch the same shows or movies is because it gives them a sense of security knowing the outcome? I can only assume that when you read the same stories repeatedly that you are planting the words into your child’s head, thus giving them the opportunity to read to themselves and giving them a sense of independence and identity.
There is no need to worry if your child shows no interest in stories. Just because it took my youngest a few extra months to show interest in the written word doesn’t mean she wasn’t trying to recount something she has seen. Like mentioned before, Summer has been into Peppa Pig for about a year. A few months before she started her interest in story telling, she was still trying to replay an episode of Peppa Pig she had seen that day (socio-dramatic play, which children generally show an interest in from the age of 3).
Until next time