We started reading Jenny And The Cat Club by Esther Averill last night. My son was entranced, especially since Pickles the fire cat appears in some of the stories with Jenny Linsky. (By the way, he loves Pickles the fire cat. You can read more about Pickles in The Fire Cat by Esther Averill)
Every time I told him it was time for bed, he begged for me to read more. Until, next thing I knew, we were on page ninety four, and it was eleven o'clock at night. He wanted more, but it was very late, and we had to be up all the earlier this morning due to an early morning meeting at work.
My son just turned three last month, and I am reading chapter books to him. Am I being a pushy mother? I don't know, maybe, but he loves them. He begs for them, he loves Jack and Annie from The Magic Tree House series. He now loves Jenny Linsky and Mercy Watson. (He wants buttered toast with every meal, just like Mercy Watson.)
I tried reading his first chapter book to him when he was about two and a half. I was able to gauge his comprehension by asking him questions about what was happening in the story as we read along. I still ask him questions, and know that he is retaining what I read to him, because I will ask him things about the book
the next day. He usually remembers, bits and pieces of the story, and what he can't recall, he tells me he can't remember, and he asks me to tell him what happened.
I have been reading to him since before he was born. I think this is the reason why we are now reading chapter books at three. I gave him a good foundation because when he was a baby, we logged hours and hours reading books like Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, tons of vintage Little Golden Books, fairy tales, Peter Pan, and Beatrix Potter's The Compete Tales. We also frequented the library, so he was also read countless picture books.
We never sat our son in front of the television as a baby. (He does watch it now, but if you can keep your child from watching, please do. It is a very addictive habit, that I think causes behavioral issues. This is something my other half and I disagree about, but that is another post for another day.) When he was with me he was in my Moby Wrap, or when I couldn't carry him for safety purposes, such as while I was cooking or doing laundry, he was in his bouncy chair. I always placed him where he could see me, and would explain to him what I was doing.
As he got older and started toddling around, we still read the picture books, the Little Golden books, and the age appropriate baby books because he didn't want to sit still for longer books. He was ready to explore the physical world around him. I still always offered to read him a story, because by this time, he was able to tell me if he wanted to be read to or not. Most of the time, but not always, he wanted still wanted to be read to.
I never force my son to sit for a story, it's always his choice. I think that is what makes our reading aloud time so precious, it is not forced, which means we both enjoy it so much.
I went back to work full time when my son was twelve weeks old, the only quality time I was able to spend with him is at night and on the weekends. Raising a child is hard work, the most important job in the world. Reading aloud is a sacrifice on my part. It takes up a lot of my free time, but building a strong family unit is more important to me than anything. Reading aloud to my child is one of the most important things I will ever do in my life. It is building a bond that I hope will last a lifetime.
So if you are a new parent and asking the question, when should I start reading aloud to my child? The answer is right now! If your child is older and has never been read to, don't think it is too late, start small. Take them to the library, let them pick out a few books. Turn it into an adventure. Then sit down with your child, get cozy and read to them. Trust me, it will be the one of the best decisions you will ever make.