Reading is one of the most amazing experiences I've had with my children. It's as if I'm watching their brains grow. As their eyes light up, their little fingers reach, and their voices react to simple images and words. My twin girls are 2 1/2 now and books have been an important part of our daily routine since they were born. Actually, even before they were born I would read some of their books out loud and imagine what life would be like reading to the little people my husband and I were about to officially and anxiously welcome into the world, into their new home and on our laps for story time.
Our very first board books that are still favorites are "Goodnight Moon," "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," and the "Little Pookie" books by Sandra Boynton. Even though I knew they couldn't fully see what I was sharing, I was creating the interest and that's where it all begins.
Vision isn't something we are born with, but (if physiological barriers aren't present) over time this ability is developed and learned. Developing vision and learning how to see requires the right tools to be present... especially BOOKS! Wonderful information and stimulation filled with art, with colors, shapes and ideas so incredibly important for visual development.
Touch: a tangible and innate experience. Every child... every person needs it in some capacity. Touch is filled with so much emotion, and that quickly translates to understanding what's at the end of our finger tips. When the tangible turns into concept, theory and imagination, our brain goes crazy...at least that's what I picture — a dance party, where letters/colors/ideas meet to create the story.
As toddlers now, my girls are requesting the books that they have memorized or have begun to memorize. THIS... is the yellow brick road to reading. Where they are are skipping, running and sometimes tripping down a very forgiving path. The current two favorite books that both of my children have memorized are "My Mom Loves Me!" and "My Dad Loves Me!" by (Marianne Richmond). We rejoice in sharing the experience with others...
"Hey, listen to her read this book!" (wink wink) — thank you prefrontal cortex! This is the area of our brain managing our short-term memory, also known as the coordinator as it strives to maintain our memories to differing degrees — seeking a potential "long-term" home. Or, known to many parents as "why my tiny child is a genius!" I completely beam with pride as they read this book and well... they equally beam with pride! It's a pretty neat thing, and these are huge steps!! No, my 2 1/2-year-olds are not "reading" yet but they are making the connection and that is incredible.
Now, I am introducing them to my favorites as a child and my little 'band' is jumping on this 'wagon'... "Amelia Bedelia," "Little Bear," and all of the "Frog and Toad" books. A recent read that has been a naptime request is "Frog's Lost Button." This has led to me finding little buttons around the house... Why? Because they are lost?!!! Seriously do I have to answer that question for you? I have my own little frog and toad acting out their favorite stories.
But, really... this concept of the story being translated into real life is happening right before my eyes. Weren't they just in my belly? I am in awe watching my little ones understand ideas and concepts and seeing how stories have inspired them to use their imagination — pretending and creating.
Early reading is the like the ignition to imagination... sparking ideas, allowing discovery, communication, curiosity and compassion. Who wouldn't want this for their child? I can't imagine a world without the best tools to help: Books!
My love for reading with my children is extended into our local library too... a place where books welcome us into their home — a home for our imagination. Check out my post for National Library Week on the Twin Cities Moms Blog here > A Home for Our Imagination < and take time to visit and thank your local libraries!!
This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.