In spring this year I took a break from reviewing children’s books because my family was trying out a new reading system and I wanted to find the balance in my own home before diverting any attention to writing about books.
At the time, Charlotte was clearly overwhelmed by our picture book selection. I tried limiting the number of books she had to only a dozen, the same dozen, day in and day out, and I saw noticeable improvement in her attitude toward story-time but after about two weeks my brain exploded.
So I tried rotating through our books – a dozen one week, a dozen the next week – but after a week of reading the same books all the time my daughter refused to try out the new dozen books and after about two weeks my brain exploded. And so it went. Every time I tried something out, it either backfired or my brain exploded or both.
Then, a couple months ago, I struck gold.
I wish I had a fancy schmancy name to reveal to you, but right now I just call this the highly technical term of Book Rotation. The books in the image are the books in our current daytime rotation.
Our rotation works like this: we have a few books in one place and every couple weeks I pull a few out and replace them. Like I said: it’s highly technical.
After I introduced the rotation, a reader sent me a video clip of story-time in her home with one of the books she’d won. (Which reminds me, Ellie and Tracy, if you’re reading this, your books have arrived at my home and I should be sending them to you before the week is over). Anyway, her story-time was AWESOME!! – it was like watching a library story-time. I’m not sure why it had never occurred to me to take some of the story-time ideas I’ve liked at other places and incorporate them into my home routine, but after watching her video clip I was determined to make it happen.
Adding a little structure and variety to our story-times has made a world of difference. Our story-times now have a distinct beginning and end. We start by laying down a blanket and we aren’t finished until we’ve folded the blanket up again. Charlotte really likes this. We also sing songs, especially songs we can act out, and recite poems. Charlotte has several dozen songs and rhymes memorized in their entirety now. It’s pretty awesome. And I have also begun to incorporate good old-fashioned no-books-involved storytelling.
Last but not least, I have started asking Charlotte to tell me stories. At the beginning of story-time, I ask her to tell me one of yesterday’s stories. Sometimes she tells me about a book we read, but nine times out of ten she’ll relay the story I told her without a book. After each book or story, I ask her what happened in the tale. At the end of story-time, I talk with her about stories from our life. The story of how she was born, a story about what we did last week, a story about her aunts and me when we were little. I try to make the stories very repetitive and predictable and along the way I ask her to help me tell the story.
Right now, the daytime rotation is in its early days and there are still plenty of kinks that I’m trying to work out, but overall Charlotte and I are both enjoying story-time much more. Reading is back on track in our home and I am really looking forward to seeing where we go from here.
Filed as Odin the Owl: Just Read! Parenthood Parenting choices Charlotte Photographs of Charlotte Charlotte's toddlerhood; 12-24 months Charlotte's twosies; 24-36 months Reading Kid lit Libraries and story times Literacy tips Learn Column
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