"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD...He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." Micah 4:2

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Reading to Little Ones is MORE than Words

With grandchildren living on the other side of the globe and another living more than a 24 hour drive, it would seem silly for me to write a professional post on reading to little ones. Yet, this week, I was reminded several times just how much both generations can learn when reading is part of the precious time spent together.
So, I decided to take a moment and tell you what great fun it's been to hang out with four of our little ones and read the same little books over and over to them.

My Don and I arrived on the tropical island of PENANG, Malaysia about two weeks ago and the youngest took to "Grandpa" immediately when read a familiar book. He was fascinated to watch a stranger read the same words others had read to him, yet I'm sure he was a little puzzled with the different tones, pauses, and with even some of the sound effects this Grandpa added! From that moment on, it was like he couldn't get enough of one book! We constantly endured the repetition of words while we watched for the huge smile that crossed his face on certain pages!

Over and over the book was read.
We noticed this repetition even taught the little one about noises he could make with his own hands. Grandpa would read the words while pounding on the arm of the chair..."Dum * ditty **, Dum *ditty **, Dum* Dum* Dum!" (the ** represents the pounding we all endured!). At first, baby boy just stared. Then, Grandpa used the little hands to pound out the beat to the repetition. Finally, they were both quite good at pounding the beat of the drum on the armchair. The little guy began to watch his own hands in other activities, and by the end of the week, his hands gleefully participated in rhythm as he joined the family in many clapping songs.

So now, my Don left for the States, leaving me behind to pick up where he left off WITH THE SAME BOOKS!
But, really...I don't pound chairs, or add his other sound as I simply read to the playful little guy, I honestly didn't think he was paying any attention until I decided to read the calmer Fireman Small. He became so excited as he anticipated the sound made when the "water "WHOOSHES" from the hose". I saw his mouth copy the shape of my mouth!
But what really took me even more by surprise was how shocked the little guy was when I couldn't see the page completely and added MY OWN WORD, replacing farm with town!

His little head snapped around and he looked at me with the most puzzled look! It was hilarious! He seriously took in the situation, and probably thought "This lady needs help!" 
Amid much laughter from the others nearby, I learned babies really listen to each word, notice the added expressions, watching your mouth form the sounds and even looking at the pages as if to put it all together. Reading plays a huge role in their quest toward verbal skills!
The next time I read Hand, Hand, Fingers,Thumb he actually started laughing aloud as he wiggled and squirmed on my lap. When comfortably in place where he could reach the arm of the chair, he anticipated with giggles the DUM*DUM*DITTY** and with the biggest grin on his face, he correctly pounded out the beat his Grandpa had taught him!
I know Grandpa added a new dimension in the little guy's love of books!

But I also realized he was not the only one who had listened and thought this Grandmom needed help in reading skills. A couple of hours later, our little 3 year old joined me at the table with the book Fireman Small. "Grandma, I will show you how to read this book, ok?"

If you cannot see this video here, go here on You Tube

How precious to watch it "read"! It's so obvious that this book had been opened many many times over through the years to all these little ones!
I know this earnest little face reading to me is a real memory keeper!
I especially loved her expression on "WHOOSHES" and "Hooray, Hooray, the fire is out!"

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