Wednesday, May 11, 2011

books n' reading (repeat)

i read a lot.

not so much for myself these days, but when we visit the pediatrician and the nurse asks how many minutes we spend reading to our daughter, we chuckle. "uhhh, not minutes, hours" is our answer.

we supplement our book collection with frequent visits to neighboring libraries. selecting a book for a toddler is not as easy as it might sound. unless we all go as a family, one watchful eye is on her and the other is scanning the book quickly for content, illustrations, non-offensive gender stereotypes, a topic that might be relevant to her world, and the oh-so-important characteristic: repeat readability. few books are read once in our world, in fact, as i type, i can count no books under our roof that were read just once. repeat. that's our motto. or from her, "uh-gan!"

a friend mentioned the other day how hard it is to find decent books for her almost-3 year old. i concurred, sharing that i've been planning to blog about the goodies in our world, both for our own benefit--i hope to notice patterns and be reminded of good authors--and for anyone else who might stumble upon or be directed to my blog.

and so it happened that what spurred my first post on this topic was not a book, but a magazine. i don't subscribe to any magazines right now, but i picked up a Saveur at the grocery store a few months back that continues to move around the rooms in our home as someone reads another article. (the subtext to my first sentence being that our reading habits include slowed pace and a hunt-and-peck quality.)

our daughter is a talented narrator of her world, and when she sees this magazine, she points to the cover and yelps, "sandwich! sandwich!" the image of a gigantic bread-laden sandwich delights her in its relevance to her own eating habits, and it was this knowledge that coaxed me to sprawl on my bed with her and page through the varied sandwich concoctions. we talked about the ingredients she recognized and about those she didn't (sprouts, for one), about the different types of bread, and about elvis, who was pictured eating his favorite sammie: creamy peanut butter, banana, and honey, a combination she could happily imagine.

this activity brought me back to our visits to the pediatrician and the concept of minutes. reading isn't just a 16-page story between 2 boards. it's ascribing words and letters to meaning. it's taking moments--hours, even--to imagine a world outside our own. it's fun. and lovely to share.


Pattie said...

Quality literature without gender stereotypes remains a challenge thru the years. Even books with cute little animals will often carry a subtle message. One of my favorites that I remember stumbling upon was "Lets get a Pup Said Kate" or something to that effect. The dad, with hhis ear pierced, is pictured making breakfast one day. The illustrations rock! Happy reading!

sarah said...

oh, and i am SO going to find that one! thanks for sharing it. one of my most unfavorite series are the berenstein bears. the mom is always in an apron and the dad brings home the bacon. i can't remember all of what i didn't like, but i remember when i was a volunteer reader, kids LOVED it because it was about a cute bear family. but the subtext...

Pattie said...

Please also explain why most books wiht animals feature kittens as girls and puppies as boys. The girl animals tend to be sweet and cuddly, the boy animals ferocious or strong. ugh. As they have aged, my girls can at times identify and think about the message being sent. I can't keep them from crappy literature, but I can make them aware. Oh we have so much to discuss next month! :)