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Wednesday, January 11, 2017


In teaching youngsters eighteen to thirty-six months old in Mommy and Me classes, one experience stands out in my memory. The particular little boy's mother was desperate to get her son, about 2, interested in books. His father didn't and wouldn't read, not even the newspaper or Sports Illustrated, not even to help his son's development. I didn't know why or ask. That's none of my business. I just helped with ideas to solve the mother's problem. The mother thought because her husband didn't read, that this was the reason her son wouldn't even sit in her lap for the cozy experience of reading together suggested by most reading authorities as the way to interest a child in books. Let's face it the little boy's main male roll model wouldn't read.

That was a tough question to help Mom solve. And I'm guessing many children have one or two parents who never loved to read. I suggested she pick up a number of board books, ones for babies and older. That she needed a variety of what many people call toys, not books--flip and find what's under the flap, press the button and get a sound, books with wonderful illustrations and so on.. I told her to put the books in containers like plastic baskets and place the book baskets in a number of rooms. Then, she had to tell her son that the books in these baskets were his books and only his books. 

You might think, Oh yes, he'll pick one of those books right up and try to read it himself. Not necessarily. He might put it in the bath tub and drown it, He might chew on it etc. Remember children at this age are exploring.. Let them explore. Children this age want to feel powerful. Remember, 'I do it.' and 'Mine." So, no matter what the child does, don't punish him. Use a sense of humor. If you find a book he's been eating, say,"Wow, I'll bet this was good! Can I have a nibble?" and drop it back in his basket. If the book went in the toilet, you can pick it out, dry it and put it back in the basket or if you're worried about germs, just drop it in the waste basket and say, "I'll bet the germs are going to enjoy reading that book."Then. forget about it. Your child is testing you.

The problem is it's very difficult for a small child to respond to stress from the parent, even if the parent doesn't realize he's somehow pressuring his toddler. If you're making your child anxious, he's probably not going to do what you want him to. He needs to feel relaxed and loved and motivated on his own to learn to love to read and many other things too.

Do you wonder what happened to the little boy in the beginning of this post? He learned to love his books and eventually brought them to people to read them to him.  

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