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Sunday, January 25, 2009

How to read a book to Janey

My vision of motherhood, before I had kids, involved a GREAT deal of reading books. I pictured us spending huge portions of each day with a big pile of books in front of us, reading them for hours, commenting on every picture, discussing them, having to go to the library all the time to get more, my kids learning to read very early and discussing my own childhood favorites with was a lovely fantasy. And of course, it never happened. The boys somewhat tolerated being read to, but certainly not all day long. Neither of them read extra early. However, both read well now, and William at least reads for pleasure a lot, although it's almost all books about trains---but scholarly complicated ones!

Janey is a whole other challenge. I will go through how it is to read to her...

Step one...Pick out a book I think she will like, one we haven't read before. Start reading it.

Step two...Janey freaks out, grabs the book and throws it, cries, screams, bites the book, the couch, tries to bite me, has a fit for a long time.

At which point you would guess step 3 would be give up, but I can be a determined little cuss when I want to be. So I go on...

Step three....Since I really do think she will like this book in the long run and since I believe reading is probably about as important as breathing, I read the book out loud anyway, ignoring Janey's fit and yelling. I don't comment on anything, I don't editorialize, I just read it and get it read.

Step four...Leave the book lying around where Janey will see it.

Step five....Janey finds the book, brings it to me, and asks me to read it as if she loved it the first time.

But it doesn't end there, of course...

Step six...I try to read to the book to her. She listens for perhaps a page, then starts turning the pages rapidly and shuts the book.

Step seven....repeat steps 5 and six about 50 times over the next few days.

Step last, when Janey's comfort level with the book is high, I hang onto it hard and actually read the words of at least half of it, and comment on pictures.

Step nine...Janey "reads" the book to me many times, with my same tone, and comments herself a little on the pictures---not using the text words but her own stream of consciousness talk.

Step ten...the book falls apart from overuse, after having a few pages ripped out and the binding broken, and of course the dust jacket taken off and lost (that step was also followed by her brothers, they all hated dust jackets!)

Is it worth it? I think so. But I do still wish it were easier. What I've had a bit more success with is reading her non-picture books, like fairy tales from treasuries, so it's just the story, not the physical book or the pictures. I don't know what she gets from them, but she seems to be able to listen to them with less distress.

Someday I do hope and dream she will love books.

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