As son grows, so does his love of reading

2014-03-13T00:00:00Z 2014-03-13T08:24:38Z As son grows, so does his love of readingBy Sarah Mckeown Special to the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

A love of reading is something I hope to instill in my children, and thankfully, it looks like that may already be happening with my 2-year-old son.

I did some reading to Zachary while he was in the womb, and as a newborn, I would show him pictures in books while I narrated what was taking place. Moving into the toddler years, Zachary has quickly learned the letters of the alphabet, and he points them out in various locations throughout the day.

While he is not reading books word-for-word yet, he does recognize some words, can repeat a sentence from a book after hearing it read to him a couple times, and narrates pages in books once he is familiar with them.

We’ve collected shelves of children’s books in the last several years, so there’s always a new adventure to choose. Often, Zachary is all for sitting down to look at books. Other times, toys, puzzles or a favorite TV show are front-runners instead. I’ve learned not to make a big deal out of it though, since I’ve noticed he has a true interest in letters, books and reading.

Zachary and I attend Storytime at the library. While not as interested as a younger tot, Zachary now excitedly talks about Storytime on a regular basis. Once he’s at the library, he proudly walks up to the librarian and sits in front of her, fully engaging himself in the content of each book she reads.

We sing, do fun movements and read additional books throughout the 30-minute class. It’s something my son doesn’t want to miss; he loves Storytime.

Recently, Zachary and I were looking at books in the library’s kids’ section. I explained to him how people choose books and check them out from the library to take home to read. He looked through book after book, then decided he wanted to check out his own. He carefully sorted through stacks of books, choosing six of his favorite.

Turns out, a 2-year-old is not too young to get his own library card. That day, Zachary got his own card, and with the help of a librarian, checked out his first set of library books. I was one proud mama, and he was one proud toddler, as he carried his entire pile of books from the library to the car. He turned down my offers to help, wanting to carry the books himself.

I can’t count how many times we read those library books. Each night, we read one after the other. When it came time to return the books, Zachary repeated the process of choosing new ones. It makes me smile watching my son independently pick books that he wants to learn more about.

Zachary will sometimes read several books at a time. My husband, Shane, reads with our son, I read with him, and sometimes the three of us curl up in bed to read as a family.

We’ve read some of the same books many times, allowing for the tables to turn as our son tells his favorite stories to us. And being familiar with Storytime, he even turns books toward his audience to show the pictures.

One evening I caught Zachary tossing several books into his crib — about 25 in all. Next, he put the step stool beside the crib and, with a little help, climbed into that giant pile of books. He made himself comfortable while he read contentedly.

On a recent trip to the library we picked up a couple of his favorite TV shows — “Curious George” and “Super Why” — in book form. Zachary’s quite amused to see that what happens with his favorite characters on television can also happen in a book.

We try to have a bedtime routine that includes reading before it’s time to sleep. I find it hard to tell my son that he can choose just one more book after he’s already looked at several others. Sometimes, Zachary will pull a large basket full of books onto the bed, and we go through most of them before he hits the pillow.

It’s been helpful to me to learn from experience and to hear from other moms that kids have many phases when it comes to being interested in reading. While I used to be a little nervous that I wasn’t reading enough to him, Zachary now truly enjoys reading.

Whether it’s toys, puzzles, books or a TV show that may pique his interest at any given point, I am happy to know that Zachary appreciates books, and I hope his love of reading continues to grow.

Sarah Mckeown works at a local charter school and lives on the east side with her husband and son. Email her at east@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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