Monday, November 22, 2010
Reading Out Loud.
c. David Grim (taken 10/24/10)
One of the things I've really grown to love about being a father is reading to my son. He crawls up on my lap and stretches out, and I narrate story after story until his patience wears thin. E.'s only about three years old, so I'm impressed when he sits for multiple books. The benefits are not limited to whatever cognitive development he gets from attending to this practice. It encourages his curiosity and imagination, and heightens his observational skills. He becomes habituated to books. And he seems to genuinely enjoy the intimacy of hanging out with his father on a big comfy armchair.
Although I know that he would often choose television over hearing me read, I make it a point to put ourselves in situations that favor books instead of the tube. We go to our favorite coffeehouses and hope for the availability of our favorite seats. I tote around a huge army surplus rucksack filled with his portable library (along with a selection of his toys). I shop for his books at garage sales, rummage sales, and Half-Priced Books, and thus he already has several decent-sized shelves full of literary gems. I just rotate the stuff in our travel bag, hoping against hope that he doesn't request one we've left at home.
Sometimes E. makes me read a title repeatedly and I groan just a bit before appreciating that he has found something he really likes. The other night we went through "Save Brave Ted" several times in a row, and if anyone reading this is aware of this interactive adventure, he/she will realize how monotonous this could be. Still I end up loving every minute of it. E. tends to like when we choose something that allows for his active participation as well. And of course that is extremely entertaining for me, as a Dad who finds everything his son says amusing and even adorable. Possibly we end up annoying our neighbors sipping their lattes... but (selfishly perhaps) I don't really care.
It's a shame that modern technology has replaced the intimacy of reading to each other aloud. Likely the only opportunity most will have to engage in this activity will be with their pre-literate children. Can you imagine a group of guys getting together and reading their favorite passages to each other? Surely they'd be in for some ridicule once discovered by their contemporaries. Even many couples would likely stare at you vacantly if you suggested they could find stimulation in sharing a book. Yet I feel that in not "getting it", these people are missing out on a truly special opportunity.
As for me, I'm going to continue reading to my kid as long as he'll allow me to. When the time finally (but inevitably) comes when he wants to be by himself with a book, I'm going to be a little sad. Until then you can find me speaking in strange voices in between sips of my coffee drink a few times a week at the local cafe.
Here are some of E.'s favorites (so far):
Eric Carle, "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?"
Esphyr Slobodkina, "Caps for Sale"
Pat Hutchins, "Goodnight, Owl!"
Laura Numeroff, "If You Give a Moose a Muffin"
Kurt Futterer, "Emile"
Charise Mericle Harper, "When Randolph Turned Rotten"
Jack Tickle, "The Very Busy Bee"
Tracy McGuinness, "Bad Cat"
Julie Aigner-clark, "Baby Einstein: Jane's Animal Expedition"
Antoinette Portis, "Not a Box"
Tomi Ungerer, "Snail, Where are You?"
Lane Smith, "Pinocchio, the Boy: Incognito in Collodi"