Short on Time, or Patience? Two Simple Reading Tips

Confession time: sometimes I skip parts of the text when I’m reading to my kids. Gasp! But wait, is that such a bad thing?

I’d say that it’s not an unforgiveable sin, but Preschool Bookworm might beg to differ. Yesterday I tried to start on page four of his new favorite book. We’ve only read it maybe five times, so I didn’t think he would notice mind if I skipped the background and jumped right in in medias res. Busted! He totally called me out on my “error.” Since then, whenever requesting a read aloud, he says, for example, “Mama, read Hiccupotamus. Read all the pages.”

short books

But this got me thinking about time crunches and attention spans.

Sometimes Preschool Bookworm requests a book that we simply do not have time to read, or that I simply do not have the patience to read at that given moment. (Thomas the Train anyone?) I have two ways of dealing with this:

  1. We take a picture walk: I tell Preschool Bookworm that we don’t have time to read all of the words, but we can do a picture walk instead.* This scenario happened just this morning with a Curious George book (those early ones were LONG- 45 pages!). It was Curious George Rides a Bike versus mommy’s precious small window of time when a shower is feasible based on Baby Bookworm’s morning mood swings. Instead of taking the 13 minutes to read, we took 2 to go through every single page while I narrated an abridged version of the story. I’m valuing his love of books, I’m teaching summarizing skills, and I’m getting in the shower when I need to!
  2. We choose a book from the Short Books Basket: I have a basket in Preschool Bookworm’s room with books I’ve selected because they are able to be read in approx 2 minutes or less.  We use this basket as his final choice before nap, and before lights off for the night. This honors his independence to choose a book for himself but does so within my boundaries. We’re big fans of Love & Logic around here, and this fits perfectly with their principle Share the Control: “Sharing control within firm limits teaches wisdom and responsibility.” In the photo above you can see our current round of Short Books. We rotate them occasionally to keep them intriguing. Many of them are board books from when he was smaller, and many were on my first birthday booklist Books for a 2 Minute Attention Span.

I hope these tips give you some freedom to enjoy books even when your patience or your schedule make sharing a book challenging.

*I should note that if you have elementary aged bookworms, they are probably familiar with taking a Picture Walk in a slightly different manner. It’s used as a strategy in reading instruction with new texts, to encourage students to activate prior knowledge, make predictions, and set a purpose for reading; it is typically more interactive in nature, allowing students to share their ideas about what they see in the pictures and thereby making connections & predictions.

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