Now, here's the deal...while we do not have cable TV in our house (and our one television is almost 20 years old and sits, unplugged, in the basement), we are not above stealing some breathing space by popping in a movie (from our carefully curated collection - safe for little eyes) and sending the kids downstairs to kill a couple of hours in our movie room (complete with projector and pull-down big screen). So I get that, and I'm not knocking it as a valid way to spend time on occasion. However, as you might have guessed by now, we are BIG proponents of reading around here.
When the caregiver essentially told me that these kids couldn't handle being read to, this English major/bookworm/INTJ took it as a challenge. In the early days at home, it was tough going. For one, they didn't know any English, and my attempts to read to them from the few Spanish books I had, were often met with laughter (for good reason). But I persisted, quickly moving to English-language books, reading them nightly, even when they had no idea what I was saying. The break-through book came in the form of (who else?) Dr. Seuss's ABC.
When we met the kids, the three youngest (at the time ages 4, 5, and 6) did not know the alphabet at all (in either Spanish or English), so this book truly was not only a way to get them used to being read to, but a tool to help them learn the alphabet. Our oldest daughter (at the time of her adoption, age 12) took this book and used it to learn some of her first English words (you can still see her pencil marks over the words she knew).
We moved on from the basics and the kids were soon hooked on one of my favorite childhood stories, Tikki Tikki Tembo, by Arlene Mosel. If you are not familiar with this book, I highly recommend looking it up and adding a copy to your shelves. My kids love - as I did as a child - saying the great long name, and pointing out that the two boys did not obey their mother when she told them not to play at the well. This book was one of the first that actually helped our kids grasp the idea of consequences - so once again, fun with a purpose!
We met our 5 kids a little over 16 months ago, brought them home a little over 14 months ago, and have been reading to them nightly for the last 12 months or so. I am happy to report that our home library is well used these days, and nightly reading time is something that - at times - all 7 of us are involved with, sitting around, listening to the stories being read. Current favorites continue to include Dr. Seuss, but this time in the form of much longer books - I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today (and Other Stories), Scrambled Eggs Super!, and The Sneeches and Other Stories.
Sometimes I look around at all of us snuggled up with our pile of books, and I wish that caregiver who poo-pooed our kids ever being able to sit still for reading time could see them now. I wish he could be a fly on the wall when our middle gal pulls books off the shelf and says, "Mom, I think I'm going to read now" (when she couldn't read more than her name 5 months ago!), or when our 9 year old brings out The Young Readers Bible and proceeds to read 23 stories in a row to me as I knit on the couch. I wish he could hear our son, who has some learning and speech challenges, finish his emerging reader homework, turn his face up to me and say, "MOM! I'm READING!" Or when our pre-schooler comes - with book in hand - and says, "Mom, listen to me read this."
They may not grow up to have a book addiction like I do, but if I can at least get them to have a respect for books, and an understanding that reading makes you grow, it helps you to learn, and it's a valid way to pass the time of day... I'll be a happy Bookworm.
Do you have a favorite children's book?