Saturday, April 26, 2014

Supporting Dewey’s Read-a-thon: How to Turn A Book-Chewing Baby into a Book-Devouring Toddler!

In honor of Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thon, which is taking place today, I thought I would write a little post about turning toddlers into book lovers!

First, a disclaimer: I’m not a teacher or an expert in early childhood education. As an only child, I’m not even someone who has tons of experience with children. I’m just a writer, reader and mom of P., age 3 and a half.

P. loves books. As a baby, she would devour them – literally. But enough jokes. As someone who believes that the key to education is a book, I knew right from the start that offering my child the love of reading would be one of the best gifts ever. But how?

A pianist once said to me, if you want your child to play the piano, she has to see you playing the piano or enjoying piano music. If the parent has no interest whatsoever in the subject, the child likely won’t be drawn to it either. (Of course, there are always exceptions.) In our case, I didn’t have to make an effort to apply this advice to reading. Right from the start, P. saw my husband and me reading, and we read to her before she could even understand the stories.

The result? The chewing on books evolved into pointing at pictures in them. And that evolved into a real interest in the stories.

To add a bit more creativity to our routine, I thought back to my childhood. My grandfather and mother were both amazing storytellers. Grandpa created the mischievous little character of Herbie. Each time Grandpa told me a story, it was an original with Herbie involved in some new adventure. And Mom made up a story that I insisted on hearing over and over: It was about my dog going to a store to buy me a party dress for my birthday!

So a couple of months ago, I started telling P. stories about her stuffed animals embarking on silly adventures. Each story involved P. as one of the characters. Needless to say, P. loves this sort of story time. A few days ago, I tried something new. I asked P. to tell me a story about one of her stuffed animals. And she did! We now take turns telling each other stories.

My other ways of keeping books and stories alive and exciting are involving them in our daily lives. If we go to the pool, for instance, I might say: “We’re going swimming just like Maisy!” (reference to the “Maisy” books by Lucy Cousins).

I’ve tried my best to make books and reading fun (because I truly think they are!) and it seems to have worked, at least so far. I’ve never pressured P. into picking up a book and she enjoys various toys and games too. But she always comes back to the books. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

For more information on Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thon or to support the participating readers, click here!


  1. I think getting children to enjoy books is the best fun. We too adored Maisy (and a different Maisy, 'Maisy Middleton', and Rosemary Wells' 'Noisy Nora', and all of Quentin Blake's repertoire, and.. and... The secret for me is choosing books that stand constant repetition (so definitely no 'Mr. Men') and then it's all-round pleasure. Hooray for grandchildren and the chance to do it all over again!

  2. It is so much fun! And you are right about choosing ones you don't mind reading over and over. I know some of her favorites by heart by now. :)

  3. Great post! The Girl is (and will remain) an only child so there's lots of time to fret. This is the only place where I start to worry about my Kindle - does she know that I'm reading and not playing Angry Birds?

    That being said, we do stories every night. I loathe picture books so I'm glad that she's gotten to the point where I can read her chapter books and leave the picture book stories for my husband.

    Margaret is spot on about the repetition, unfortunately we own the entire set of the Little Miss books thanks to my own childhood nostalgia.

    Thanks for linking up with Spread the Love!

    1. I worry about the Kindle/iPad thing too... I'm afraid it looks like I'm watching TV or something on it!! But eventually, they will realize that the Kindle is all part of reading too. That's cool that you and your husband split the reading duties like that. Over here, I read the English-language books and my husband reads the French ones. We do a few of both each night. Even just one child is a lot of work!! :)

  4. Stopping by from "The Steadfast Reader"--
    Great post! There's a quote I love--I forget who said it--"Children are made into readers on the laps of their parents." It's true!

    1. That's a great quote! And so true... Thank you for visiting my blog!

  5. I do the same as you, Adria - I read the English ones and my husband reads the French ones. But right now Leo is really into cars and we only have French books with cars in them so he keeps picking those ones to read, and then when I read it in French he gives me a funny look like "Um, you don't speak French." Guess we need to buy some English car books :)

    1. Ha, ha! That's funny... Pretty soon he will be correcting you, just as my daughter does with me. :)


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