From the time the girls were born until they became really mobile, a substantial portion of our “awake time” activities centered around me reading to them. Using as animated of a voice as I could muster, I read – literally for hours on end those first few months – every day. I started reading mostly fairy tales. I then graduated to some chapter books, like Raggedy Ann and Andy.
When I had cycled through our collection of children’s books at least a couple of times, I finally decided it didn’t really matter what I was reading, as long as they were hearing my (very animated) voice. I branched out and began reading them the books that I was reading. During those early months, I know the girls sat through a couple of John Grisham books, Kabul Beauty School, and Three Cups of Tea, plus countless Good Housekeeping and Redbook articles. (I kept the Marie Claire articles out of the nursery, though, on the off chance that they were absorbing some of the material.)
As the girls became more mobile, they were much less content to sit and listen to me read, even in my most animated of voices. Outside of their bedtime story, I struggled to find a good way to incorporate reading into our day. Then I realized I could keep them in their high chairs for a few extra minutes after meals, enticing (bribing?) them with Puffs or Cheerios, while I read.
Eventually, the girls’ antsy-ness couldn’t be subdued with any amount of Cheerios, and I had to release them to the den. I would perch on a chair, out of their reach (since they were otherwise certain to destroy any book in a matter of seconds), and read to them. They weren’t exactly paying attention, but I hoped my animated voice would somehow have a positive effect on their verbal skills.
After a few weeks, I gave up even this effort. I tried reading the girls board books, but all they wanted to do was chew on them. There was a period of a month or so that – outside of bedtime – the girls had no exposure to books. It made me really sad, and I actually worried – a lot – that this might somehow impede them learning to read. What was wrong with my kids???
When the girls were 13 or 14 months old, I finally found a way to reintroduce books to them…a way that they really enjoyed, and one that made me feel much better about their academic futures. :) Instead of reading the words on every page, I would just use the books to point out singular objects (“Dog!” “Bucket!” “It’s raining!”).
Eventually, the girls became more patient to read a very simple storyline. And now they’re usually content to listen to an actual story, as long as there are lots of pictures…and if I’m willing to pause for them to point out every dog, bucket, and raindrop.
I’m so thankful that books are once again a huge part of our days. Usually as soon as I sit on the floor with the girls, they’re climbing into my lap with a book in hand. I love that the girls love to read. And I feel much more secure that they'll eventually pass Kindergarten. :)
Oh, and when they’re the ultimate crime-fighting duo, settling complex litigation and working towards peace in the Middle East…while dressing to the nines AND making the best pot roast in town…well, I’ll know where they got their start.