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Challenge: Reading Together

Are you reading your child too many books?

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I recently discovered I was reading my son too many books. We have dozens, if not hundreds of books in our home. He loves to read. But it was time for a change.

On the days that I was home with him, we frequently sat down with a large stack of books and read through them all. My husband would come home and ask me what we did during the day. To which I reported, “we read over a dozen books.”

That sounds great, right?

That’s what ‘good moms’ should be doing. Reading stacks of books to their kids.

That’s what I believed. Until a friend recently sent me this quote that made me second guess this line of thinking.

If we understand the value of sharing the same book over and over, then very few are needed. It is beneficial to read only one book at a sitting because each book has its own atmosphere, and mixing them can clutter the child’s experience, especially at bedtime." -Rahima Dancy, 'You Are Your Child’s First Teacher'

Ok go back and read that quote again. And sit and consider it for a minute. Then read it again.

I read this quote several times. I am still not sure what to make of it.

But I think I like it.

In her writing, Dancy explains that instead of plowing through piles of books our children should focus on reading very few stories on repeat. This way children can really grasp the storyline, engage with the illustrations, and experience the book.

I decided to give it a try. We put away the stack of books and just got out one a classic favorite Where the Wild Things Are.

What a change. It just felt different. When we only had one book to read, we spent 10 to 15 minutes and stopped at each page and engaged together. I asked my son questions about what he saw. He pointed out things of interest. Together made some “Wild Thing” noises and dances.

Afterwards, we did it all over again. But a little bit different this time.

Normally I might have breezed over this page with no words, we we tried to

Previously, I might have breezed over these wordless pages, but we tried to “take it all in” today.

We got involved in the experience of the book, rather than just reading the words off the page. Personally, I felt like I was present in the reading experience rather than just a book-reading-machine.

Educators sometimes call this interactive reading between an adult and child dialogic reading. It might sound fancy but what it means is parents ask questions, make the child a storyteller, and use positive reinforcement. Research shows that kids who read like this typically show increases in language development and a greater interest in reading.

Let this be a reminder, my fellow speed-readers: quality over quantity. Stop and smell the roses. Enjoy the story, then enjoy the same story over and over again.

We won’t be getting rid of our books or cutting down on the amount of time we spend reading. However, we will be adopting the philosophy that less is more when it comes to the number of books we read together.

What do you think about this “less is more” philosophy?

Denaye Barahona is an aspiring-minimalist who is wife to David and mama to Nicolas and Louisa. On her blog, Crib to Table, she shares her passion is to inspire simple living and healthy eating in families with young children. Currently, she is a Ph.D. candidate in Child Development with special research focus in picky eating behaviors. She is licensed and experienced as a child and family psychotherapist and behavior consultant, working with parents to troubleshoot challenging behaviors in young children.

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