We are fully in the “threenager” stage now at age 3.25. Although we breezed through the “terrible twos,” over the last quarter, we have squarely entered a new era. My own reading has been greatly affected as my nightstand full of parenting books clearly shows! That’s a whole other blog post.
When we’re not dealing with an epic battle of wills, Preschool Bookworm is a fabulous reading companion. Reading has become a way of life, naturally fitting into the rhythm of our day:
We read at mealtime. This is when I pull out chapter books. We’ve introduced the concept of a bookmark. Although we’ve been reading long books since Preschool Bookworm’s first year, more recently he has begun to show recall from previous reading sessions. I’ll do a quick “picture walk” and retelling of the previously read text, asking a few basic comprehension questions. Then we jump back in and read as time and attention (and appetites) allow.
We read at playtime. Preschool Bookworm loves to “multitask”–he will ask me to read and then jump back into playing with his tools, or his sand box outside. I’ve experimented periodically to see if he’s aware that I’m reading. In one experiment, I put the book down to “check on something,” and upon my return “forget” where we left off. More often than not, he can pinpoint the page. In another experiment, I skip sections of familiar books, to see if he notices. I’m caught red-handed almost every time!
He reads during quiet time. Naps are becoming rarer by the week (we’re down to about 1-2 days per week). In their place, I’ve instituted a two hour quiet time, encouraged and timed by the “OK to Wake Clock.” If you’re not familiar with it, I HIGHLY recommend it. We started using it just after his second birthday when vacation season was imminent. It has been a lifesaver, teaching him that there are firm boundaries in place for bedtime and quiet time. It’s allowed me to maintain a 7am waketime every single day (despite time changes) and a 2 hour quiet time daily. It glows green at 7am each morning, and has a separate nap timer that I’ve set for 2 hours (initiated by the push of a button); he is allowed to come out of his room at “green go!” We initially taught him the concept using his stuffed animals, allowing him to play Dad and tuck his doggie in to nap until “green for go!” He caught on the first day and we haven’t looked back.
Okay, back to reading: during his quiet time, he always drags out a stack of books. This is the “read to self” type of reading, initiated freely alongside choices of quiet toys, like animals, blocks, and train tracks. (See my post about “read to self” and DEAR time here.) It warms my heart to hear him through the monitor reading aloud his favorite scenes, even reenacting dialogue he recalls. He has a few sight words, and a few books memorized, and those can often be overheard during quiet time.
He reads during independent playtime. In every play space in our home, we have books accessible. They don’t collect dust. The toys get dumped, played with for a moment, then the books get a turn. (You can read about how I organize our books and rotate them here.)
We read as a family. Whole family reading sessions normally happen in the post-bath, post-cleanup window, just before bed. Sometimes it’s a short burst, each bookworm picks a book and we call it a night. Other times we dig in to book after book, following the kids’ lead. And lately, every night ends with a lively read aloud of Llama Llama Hoppity Hop, each bookworm on a parent’s lap to act out the motions.
Favorite Titles at 3.25 Years
Warning: Do Not Open This Book by Adam Lehrhaupt. We love metafiction a la The Monster at the End of This Book (see my post about that book & metafiction here). This one includes naughty monkeys, an alligator, and a plan involving a banana. The most requested book of the moment in our home.
My Truck is Stuck. Preschool Bookworm loves the predictable pattern & repetition. It’s a subtle counting book, transportation book, and rhyming book in one.
Digby O’Day and the Great Diamond Robbery by Shirley Hughes. This chapter book was recommended by our librarian, and we polished its 136 pages off in two sittings! It’s an exciting early chapter book with illustrations on every page.
The Watcher by Jeanette Winter. Preschool Bookworm has a stuffed animal chimpanzee that he adores, so we naturally began checking out books about chimps from the library. This has been our favorite, a picture book biography of Jane Goodall. The illustrations along with the interesting yet accessible text make it a perfect early biography choice! PB especially enjoys finding the chimps hidden in the illustrations of his favorite double page spread.
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