Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Book is Worth a Thousand Snuggles

It occurred to me recently that I may not be the only one who questioned my ability as a parent because my children refused to sit through a bedtime story the first two years of their lives.

I blogged yesterday about bed time routines and shared the fact that part of my routine with my baby is singing to him. Many people choose to read a book instead of, or in addition to, singing. But, I found with this baby and with my other two that their attention span before bed was pretty low, regardless of their level of sleepiness, and a book just made them restless. Reading before bed turned into a battle. I found myself practically tying them down just so they would listen to a damn story. That’s when I realized they might start to hate books if I was forcing this. It wasn’t until about 2-years-old that I started reading a story to my twins before bed.

The fact is, we all want our children to love books, but we are brainwashed into thinking that they HAVE to have a book before bed or we are bad parents. There was a time I thought my kids were going to be less intelligent because I wasn’t reading to them before bed. Sheesh! Now that the twins are older, story time before bed is so special. And one of my 4-year-olds is reading short stories, so I don’t think their lack of bedtime stories when they were one did any harm.

All of my kids love books, and our book time is much more productive and enjoyable during the day when they are alert, especially the first two years of life. The baby will get stuck on one book each day, and we may end up reading it 12 times in a row. He will do sign language for “more,” and now even mutters, “Mo?” especially with books that force me to make silly and sometimes embarrassing noises. Anyone read Sandra Boynton’s “Doggies” 12 times in a row? If you know this book, you can sympathize.

My point is, please do not stress if you can’t implement stories into your bedtime routine. That will not define their intelligence or their love of books. As long as they are exposed to books during the day, they will love them. But, please expose them to books and read to your children. I read a terrifying article recently that I almost didn’t believe. There are actually children entering Kindergarten classrooms without the recognition of what a book is or how to turn its pages. This is sad to me on so many levels.

So, sit down with a book and your child—even if there are no words and you have to bark like 10 different dogs and meow like a cat.

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