Reading with toddlers: rereading the same book over and over… and over again

Recently, we’ve been obsessing over the original Very Hungry Caterpillar book. Like, I’m not even exaggerating when I say we read it ten times last Sunday. We even got to the point where I was so sick of reading it over and over that day, that I let Bella watch YouTube videos of caterpillars turning into butterflies for an hour. Oh and guess what? Thanks to YouTube showing related videos, my toddler found… that’s right, you guessed it… a video of someone reading the Hungry Hungry Caterpillar! Yay! As if I hadn’t had enough already. And instead of me reading it ten more times I got to hear someone else read it 5 more times. At which point I was caterpillar’d out and it was bedtime for Bella. The resulting toddler meltdown was almost comical with her sobs of “I want paterpiller (caterpillar)”.

Now of course, this is not a new thing. Our trusty standby and all time favorite, The Cat in the Hat, is read so often that we’ve literally memorized it. And we’ve read The Little Red Hen so many times that the last page fell out.

But the funny thing is, I’m not even mad. Yea it may get mind numbing after a while, but toddlers learn a lot through repetition and I couldn’t be happier that story time is one of her favorite daily activities… and that she wants to spend time with ME. Just to see her wide grin when I sit and listen to her “reading” the same book back to me is worth it.

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The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s abc

Happy Sunday! Or happy whatever-day-you-are-Reading-this! So, my daughter Bella immediately spotted this book at Barnes and Noble the other day because she’s a huge fan of the original Very Hungry Caterpillar Book and even though we have several other abc books, I bought it because I typically have a rule that I never say no to buying a book (within reason). Well we brought it home and have been going through it everyday for the last couple weeks and I have to say that I didn’t expect to like it this much.

Bella’s thoughts:

She likes the paterpiller (Caterpillar) and the letters. “It’s so funny”.

My thoughts:

I love the bright colors because it instantly draws the eye to the page and Makes it easy for a two and three year old to focus as you read through the letters. Since the book features the same Caterpillar and art work from the original book, it makes it easily recognizable and I appreciate that for Bella who loves the original book. Another thing that I love is the fact that each letter takes up most of the page. I was getting really tired of books that feature the letter and then a picture of some sort and some words because often it distracts a small child from the main point, which is the letter. But what I love most about this book is that it is all lower case letters. Most of what they read is in lower case and it is often recommended to begin there. Of course, the kids are going to learn all their letters regardless, but if I can help my daughter become a confident reader in any way, I will try.

The one thing I didn’t like about this book was the height of the letters. In trying to make the letters cute and chubby, some of the letters are not tall enough. As an example, Bella is constantly confusing d and a because the tall part of the lower case d is not that tall so it looks a bit like an a and I can easily see why she keeps making that mistake.

All in all it’s adorable and engaging for a little one who’s interested in “doing letters” and learning to read.

Top Ten Tuesday ||Bookstores and Libraries

Hello friends! I’m sure you’ve all heard of Top Ten Tuesday but if you haven’t, it is a weekly bookish meme created by The Broke and the Bookish but now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Basically every week has a bookish theme and bloggers then create lists based off that theme. While I don’t always participate, I always check out different posts and it helps find bloggers to follow. This week however, I could not help but participate because this is something I think about all the time. This week’s theme is My top ten bookstores or libraries I’d like to visit. I had a really hard time keeping it down to just ten so I may include 12!

1. Honesty Bookshop, Hay-on-Wye, Wales

Hay-on-Wye is one of several book towns I’d love to see in my day and this shop and town just look charming and delightful. I just hope I get to visit here when I eventually visit the UK.

2. New York Public Library

One of the couple on this list I’ve actually been to before but would love to see again. I grew up in New York so I know that NYPL is actually many libraries but there is the one branch that is the main one everyone thinks of and it is beautiful. It is also a National Historic Landmark.

3. Waterstones

I hear Waterstones pop up a lot when watching booktube videos and since I live in the States, we don’t have one here.

4. Shakespeare and Company, Paris, France

A bookstore named Shakespeare and company in Paris? Yes, please. Also the history of this place involves Nazis and the whole nine, so again, YES PLEASE.

5. Book and Bed, Tokyo, Japan

This is one of those places that keep popping up in my Facebook feed and it looks super neat. A library you can sleep at!!!!!! My work requires us to travel to Japan from time to time so I know where I’ll be spending a night next time!

6. The Strand, New York City

Another of the ones I’ve visited in the past. A huuuuuge bookstore I would love to rediscover this place as an adult as I was a child the last time I went.

7. The Library of Congress, Washington DC

Me cheesing as we pass the Library of Congress

I have been here, and in fact I was here last week for work. Sadly, we had to catch a plane and I was unable to explore to my heart’s content.

8. Cafébreria el Pendulo, Mexico City

This is a two floor coffee shop, restaurant and book store with beautiful greenery inside. This is one place I will definitely visit if I ever make it to Mexico City while in Mexico.

9. Hangzhou Zhonghuge, China

This is another of those that keep showing up in my Facebook feed and people keep tagging me in it as well. A stunning architectural labyrinth of a bookstore. While I’ve been to Hong Kong and Singapore, I’ve never been to China itself and I don’t know if I’ll ever be lucky enough to go, but if I dream it long enough maybe it’ll happen.

10. Powell’s Bookstore, Portland, Oregon

The largest independent bookstore in the world. It takes up an entire city block and I have been wanting to go here for years. I always thought the Strand was the biggest til I heard about this place. Since we live in California now, I’ve been nagging my husband for a road trip up the West coast culminating here at this bookstore. Maybe it will happen this year.

11. Brattle Book Shop, Boston, Massachusetts

This is a used book store in Boston where you can find cheap used books, but they are very well known for finding rare books, old books and first editions. I love the look of this place and I love Boston so I will make this one happen some day!

So I cheated and went with 11 instead of 10 but I couldn’t help it. I had so much fun with this theme. I love traveling and I travel every now and again for work so I hope I get so see more of these places. Have you been to any of these places?

You force your toddler to read?? In which Nicky rants… just a bit.

Not very long ago, someone said to me “Wow, she really DOES love books” (referring to my daughter Isabella) and I thought to myself “WTF did you think I was lying?”

For Christmas several of our relatives and friends asked what shows and tv characters she’s into so they could buy gifts and I was honestly stumped. She has never been interested in tv and to date has never sat through any toddler tv show (sometimes I envy those parents who can put The Wiggles on tv and sneak away to take a shower or make dinner). I suggested dogs (because she fangirls at any dogs she sees) and books. The response was a little depressing. I heard everything from “I don’t want to get her books…. I want to get something she’ll play with” to “You can’t give her books for Christmas!” And this really upset me because I know my children (nobody commented that I didn’t suggest books for Junior… it was only Bella) and I know that books are the one thing you can’t go wrong with her.

I know that while Junior is a casual reader, Bella is likely going to be a reader like me.

Not that I or any parent should have to explain ourselves but this is not me forcing books down the child’s throat. She is literally fascinated by stories and the pictures in her books. So I thought I would finish out with several reasons why I think she is going to be a reader so I can direct any more well meaning people to this post instead of wasting my breath.

  1. She loves the quality time during story time
  2. She sees that it is my main form of entertainment and she tries to emulate me
  3. Even when someone is not reading to her, she will often be sitting in her room flipping pages
  4. She sits through a whole story…and wants more
  5. She’s fascinated by bookshelves and is always pulling my books off my shelves and hers off hers
  6. She is not exposed to much television because only my son is really into tv
  7. While I am cooking she will usually bring me a book and command me to sit down and read it to her

Now by no means am I saying books are better or that my kid is some genius because she likes books. And I’m not saying that she doesn’t also play. I’m just trying to point out that it IS possible for kids to prefer books.

Oh and we received a ridiculous amount of toys from both sides of the family. I am so thankful we have family who are able to send anything at all but I can’t help thinking how much unnecessary money was spent. Only my dad and my husband’s stepmom followed my advice and sent only books while a couple of others sent books in lieu of cards which I suggested later. And while she occasionally will rock on her rocking horse or pretend to make food in her kitchen, a lot of the other toys sit largely neglected (and taking up space) and the ones she plays with religiously are the books she got. This just goes to show that parents always know their kids best.

If you have read to the end of my rant, I thank you. This was a lot rantier than I wanted it to be. Til next time.

1000 Books before Kindergarten

We recently moved and discovered that we had a library very close to the house which is of course, very awesome news. I had recently been there a few times by myself and got myself a new library card and I decided that I would bring Bella with me next time. While we were there, it came to my attention that our library is enrolled in the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program. We had been doing a paper log version of this but our librarian informed us that it is a nationwide program and we could log books online and get little prizes for different milestones.

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First trip to our new library

So since Bella is showing every indication that she’s going to be a reader, I thought it would be fun to incorporate this with our paper log so we signed up with our library and started from scratch.

 

The goal is to not only create early readers, but to enjoy a positive family activity together every day.  A thousand books may seem like a lot of books, but in reality it is achievable within a few months.  Reading just 3 books a day with a child will bring you to 1000 within a year. Something I wasn’t aware of when I grabbed the paper logs from our old library is that repeating books totally counts.  I really wish I had known that earlier because there are days when Bella brings me the same book 5 and 6 times a night to read to her.  We would have been at goal last year. But that’s fine and we are loving every minute of story time.

Over the course of last week, we read and logged over 25 books and so she earned her first prize-(a library card holder and lanyard) which she was super excited about even though she doesn’t understand yet what it is.

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Mommy using Bella’s first prize to hold car keys

If you’ve read this far I thank you for joining me! Stay tuned for updates as we hit each milestone.

You can find out more about the program here.