Reading with Children

It’s quite magical: snuggling up with a warm little body, holding a new book, and being filled with the anticipation of the story to come.

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What people think reading looks like with toddlers

But let’s be honest, these moments are not often found with toddlers.

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What reading usually looks like with toddlers

I was joking with Brian the other day that I have a new way of reading stories. First someone brings me a book and sits in my lap. Then I read the title whilst they are opening the book. I read what words I can before they flip to another page. If the little one in question wanders off I will continue to read the book if it strikes my fancy.

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Miss A reading one of her favorite books

I have a secret: I used to hide the fact that I read while working. I felt guilty, that I wasn’t doing my job if I was reading a book while the children were engaged in other activities. Maybe the parents would be upset if they knew that I was reading. But I’ve found something magical in reading while with children: they notice what I’m doing. They want to sit next to me and also read a book. They are intrigued by the book that is holding my attention. Gigi used to ask me about what I was reading, or bring me the book to read her a passage.

I recently won a copy of Emily Plank’s book Discovering the Culture of Childhood (Thank you Redleaf Press!). In a rare quiet moment last week I pulled it out and started to read, quickly grabbing a pen to make passages I particularly enjoyed and jot down questions I had about the text. Fast forward to Monday when I am preparing lunch and enjoying my view from the kitchen of the three older children engrossed with a book on the couch. I was amazed with how much time they were taking with the book, the way they all were hovering around Miss A as she (I assumed) flipped through the pages of their current favorite, I Spy . . .

Notice the face on the cover?

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Throughout the pages are small little purple scribbles alongside my notes. I am thankful that it doesn’t make much of an impact on reading the book. And how fitting, as I read about learning and embracing the culture of children, that is so different from that of adulthood, I am given a reminder of how these things aren’t done out of malice or destructive intent, that I need to remove my adult lenses and see things as a child would . . .

. . . and put my pens away.

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