Friday, January 22, 2010

Reading Novels to Three-Year Olds

We've always read a lot to our kids. When they were 12 months old, they'd sit on my lap for a half hour at a time listening to me read picture books. Dr. Seuss was a favorite at that age. Gradually, they sat for even longer periods of time and needed less pictures.

About three months after they turned 3, I brought home a large stack of books from a thrift store. I had purchased a copy of Charlotte's Web and thought I'd put it on the side for when they were a bit older. We had see the newer movie version of the book, but I still didn't think they were ready to sit for a book that had one black-and-white line picture every third of fourth page. To my surprise, Alexa picked up the book and asked me to read it to her. Jared joined her on the couch, and they sat totally engrossed for the first chapter. Then they begged me to read another chapter, which I did.

That became the start of reading novels to the kids. We've still not read a novel or chapter book that is totally devoid of pictures, but I am amazed at how many longer books we've read in five months time.

Here's a list of the novels or chapter books we've read so far. We usually read these books during lunchtime for an hour or so.

The Wizard of Oz
The Fantastic Mr. Fox
George's Marvelous Medicine
My Father's Dragon
Cam Jansen and the Mystery Clown
Charlotte's Web
Stuart Little
A Scooby Doo mystery ( a chapter book that I can't remember the title)
A Good Night for Ghosts (A Magic Treehouse book - I will write a longer post about this soon)

We're currently reading James and the Giant Peach. Now we still read dozens and dozens of picture books each month, too, and Alexa has been quickly reading many Step 1 and 2 early reader books on her own, but I think our favorite times together are reading and talking about our longer books.

The term age-appropriate drives me crazy. Most people wouldn't feel it was age appropriate to read James and the Giant Peach to three year olds, but my kids are loving it. I think using terms like age-appropriate make us forget that kids are all individuals. If your three year old wants to spend two hours working on reading (which Alexa does sometimes), you need to go with that. If your eight year old still isn't interested in reading, that is just as valid, too. Jared has shown no interest so far in reading, and that's just fine. He can build a sixty piece puzzle on his own, but so far Alexa has shown no interest in puzzles.

Kids have different gifts and strengths. I am so loving this aspect of unschooling. Respect and trust your child's interests, strengths and passions and watch what amazing, vibrant, interesting and exceptional children they are and will continue to become.

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