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.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Update from a three-child household

Dear Aunt Debbie,

I've been enjoying your posts, and Lizzie's, on my blog maternity leave!

Will turned one month old yesterday, and we're starting to settle into a bit of a rhythm. While I haven't been blogging, I've still been doing a lot of reading to Eleanor and Isabel, much of it over the head of a nursing Will. I like to think he's imbibing narrative as he does mother's milk.

Our biggest book development here is that Eleanor's independent reading has taken off in the last few weeks.  The resistance she had to working at reading when we tried to encourage it last year melted away in the light of her wonderful kindergarten teacher and a classroom culture that supports both reading alone and discussing books with a reading partner. One day a week, Eleanor "shops" for books at her reading level from bins in the classroom library, so she has five books she can read in her backpack at all times. Her teacher provides her with reading goals, and checks in with her regularly to see she's meeting them and adjust her reading level as necessary.

All of this good foundational work at school has led to Eleanor starting to pick up books to read to herself at home. You can practically see the light bulb go off: Hey, I can read the books on our shelves!  Last weekend, I had to ask her to put down the board books she was reading, sprawled out on the living room floor, in order to get ready to go out for a playdate. It was one of the best moments of my parenting life.

So board books are regaining their usefulness as early readers, but Eleanor is also picking up and returning to longer beginning reader books. For Christmas, her great-aunt Karen gave her The Big Blue Book of Beginner Books, which contains 6 books of the 60-page variety, easy reads with a lot of repetition and some rhyme. 

Both Eleanor and Isabel love having the stories read aloud to them; now Eleanor can read them herself.  Her best friend Ian was over a few days ago, and while Isabel and Ian started playing in the girls' room, Eleanor sat down on the couch and started reading aloud Put Me in the Zoo to herself. (I was nursing on the couch across from her.) Holly drifted over to listen, then Ian, then Isabel, and suddenly there was Eleanor, reading to an attentive audience! I haven't been this excited since she started talking.

I'm going to aim to come back to blogging a little slowly -- one post a week at first.  It feels good to be back.

Love to you and yours,



  1. Welcome back, dear Annie! What an amazing month your household has been having.

  2. Welcome back! What a lovely, coherent post! That's such exciting news about Eleanor's reading -- I truly can't wait for our household to reach that stage. And I agree that those nursing days are such wonderful reading times -- both reading to the kids, and for yourself (if you don't mind reading at 2 AM!) Glad you're all settling in so nicely!