My son Aaron turned five a few months ago. Reading is coming naturally to him, which makes sense as he comes from a family of passionate readers.
Not only have I read to Aaron a lot throughout his life, I also deliberately focused on key pre-reading concepts when we read.
For example, I constantly demonstrated how the words go from left to right by pointing to each word as I read it aloud. I also used voices for any words in quotation marks, showing that these were words spoken aloud by a character.
While these things may seem obvious to us adults, these reading rules are foreign to young children. My hope was that all of these print “clues” would be absorbed by my son’s ready mind.
And it worked. All this implicit instruction served us well; Aaron loves to read and be read to.
But his favorite book has no words.
Well, almost none.
It’s not a baby book, with fuzzy sheep or feathered chicks. It is the beautifully illustrated book Tuesday by David Weisner.
Through its artwork, Tuesday tells the tale of frogs who, for one magical night, are able to fly. They go on adventures, floating through forests, swamps, neighborhoods, yards and even through people’s homes. (One man, standing in front of his refrigerator searching for a midnight snack, eyes them with sleepy confusion as they float by.) When the sun comes up, the spell is broken and the frogs come back to earth to live their normal, tethered lives. All this, we are told on the first page, happens on a Tuesday.
On the last page, we see the words “Next Tuesday” and see…flying pigs.
My son loves the mystery and magic of this story. His imagination is ignited by the fact that he gets to decipher what happens. Several times, we have made up more action, involving the pigs and possibly other animals who get the opportunity to become airborne on any given Tuesday.
Reading to our children is one of the most magical experiences we have as parents. And while reading books with words is vital to their development, mixing in a book that communicates exclusively through pictures can be just as wondrous of an experience.