In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Birth of a reader

Dear Aunt Debbie,

It was lovely to be away, especially for such a joyous occasion, but I'll admit it's nice to be back home.  We're in a period of happy transition -- I'm about to go back to teaching full-time, and the girls are going into full-time preschool and daycare.  So far, everyone seems to feel good about the changes.

One of the biggest and happiest changes in the last two weeks or so has been Isabel's intense new interest in books.  In her first ten months, she allowed us to read to her a little, and would often pick up books as toys, or try to chew on them, but she clearly had no real understanding of what a book was: that a certain book had the same pictures inside it every time, and would encourage her parents to make the same sounds.  It is such a delight to see her diving for books right now, going back to her favorites, clearly indicating that she wants me to read certain books over and over.

Some of Isabel's new favorites are books you and I have mentioned before: Cat, Doggies, I Love Colors, Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb.  She is really drawn to animals, particularly dogs; she seems to be trying very hard to say "Woof."  A great dog book which belongs in our discussion of wordless books (here and here) is Alexandra Day's Good Dog, Carl.  Isabel leans into and pores over the pages depicting the great friendly rottweiler "taking care of the baby" while mother is out shopping: helping the baby swim in the fish tank, fall down the laundry chute, bounce on the parents' bed, etc.  It's all about hiding bad behavior, of course, but it's such a gentle, funny depiction.  And of course, everything is cleaned up and put away before mom comes home.

The new love of books has even extended into the bath, where we repeatedly read two simple and excellent Sandra Boynton bath books: Bath Time! and Barnyard Bath.

They float, they rhyme, they encourage washing, and they make my little girl sit down in the tub, if only for a minute.

I'm looking forward to seeing where her attention goes next.

Love, Annie

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