Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Reading to My Kids

I am a reader - I have been for as long as I can remember. As soon as I found out I was pregnant for the first time, I started planning the books I would read to my child. I was very ambitious, in that eyes-wide-shut way to actual parenting life. I will read to my kids every night, no exceptions! Well, real life has bit me in the ass and laughed at me more than a few times. So while we haven't read every night for every bedtime of my kids' existence, there are also very few periods in between where it doesn't happen.

The book choices have run the gamut from reading the same book over and over for at least a week to a month - to asking them if we could read a particular storybook that I really enjoy and having it rejected. Sad face. We have discovered books that looked sketchy at first and turned out to be HI-LARIOUS (that's high-larious, for everyone outside the household) and other books with wonderful pictures that turned out to be weird or confusing. Mostly it has just been fun, silly cuddle time. Thankfully, I'm still Mommy; they appreciate and even laugh hysterically when I make silly voices or act out wild and crazy story climaxes.

This summer, with Baz learning to read and Belle well into chapter books, I decided we were going to do more than read our regular stack of picture books. I usually let them both choose one book and that's what I read before bed. Belle and I have read chapter books together, but Baz was never interested in sitting down for a chapter or two before now. So, going over all the possibilities we had, I asked them to pick out a longer chapter book that we would read before bed this summer. They chose "Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone." I have read the series more than a few times and greatly enjoy it - so much that, I bought a set just for the kids because my own were so dog-eared.

It has been wonderful. We talk about what I read the night before to refresh our memories, I ask them questions, like what they think about Harry's aunt and uncle - "Harry's cousin turned into a pig?!?" - and they always want to know if I can read an extra chapter when I'm done. I have managed to interpret and bring out Hagrid's brogue (which my husband finds incredibly amusing), Professor McGonagall's strict tone and Hermione's shrill, bossy squeal. What's more astonishing is that they love it. They love it when I read to them. I was afraid this was something I would be forcing on them, that reading a book Mommy loves before bed would be boring. But even my puppy-in-boy-form Baz loves to lie down, snuggled up with his long-suffering stuffed dog Scooter and listen to me tell Harry's tale. I love it so so much.

I wish it were this easy to work with them both on reading practice. Anabelle is off the charts in reading at school, but doesn't like our help with talking about books or essays and questions for school. Baz is interested in learning to read, but is easily discouraged - he loves books, especially about trains, but would rather make up his own stories than read the words when they get difficult. I think the trick may be asking Baz to read to me.

I have a reading list a mile long for them - I hope they stay as excited as I am.

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