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.

What people think reading looks like with toddlers

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

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.

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?


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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