Long before I was even pregnant with Ruby, I had started a collection of children's books. I used a lot of them in my Early Years teaching, so they haven't just been gathering dust on the shelves. We started reading to Ruby when she was a few weeks old, and I have loved watching her interest in books grow over time. Initially she seemed most interested in the sound of my voice, whereas now, at five months, she looks intently at illustrations, pats the pages, and explores how the pages move and turn. Sometimes this also involves putting books in her mouth, which is highly entertaining to watch:
Repetition and re-reading the same stories is a really important element of children developing skills in story sequencing, being able to predict what happens next, and understanding of story structure. However, as we only had three or four board books, I was getting a little tired of the repetition. So, I finally joined our local library. It is less than five minutes walk from our house, so I am sure Ruby and I will be visiting many, many times over the coming years. I think I definitely take for granted how brilliant the library service is - you can borrow 20 books at a time, for free. Just brilliant.
Many of the books I already owned before Ruby was born are aimed at 3 - 5 year olds, and while I have enjoyed reading these to Ruby, I have been keen to find some board books, as their sturdiness and smallness lend themselves to small hands more efficiently than the other books I own. Bristol has a wonderful number of second hand book shops, and all of the hard back books I have found, have been in the second hand shops. The books in the photo below show a selection of some of the books that I have found recently.
Something I have recently started doing when we read together is to use objects that are associated with the book in some way. For example, we've borrowed a book from the library about bath time, so on the nights that I give Ruby a bath, I sometimes read her the story about bath time, with a rubber duck to create an object reference point. I also use the Makaton sign for 'bathtime' alongside the duck to help Ruby create further connections and points of reference. With the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, I will present Ruby with her Hungry Caterpillar tactile toy, which she loves to put in her mouth, creating another age appropriate sensory element to the story.
On a personal note, I have been thinking a lot recently about how Ruby will learn from the example that John and I set, and will be influenced by what she sees us doing. With regard to reading, I can honestly say that I rarely manage to finish a book, because I don't prioritize setting aside time to read. It feels like a luxurious way to spend time during the day, and by bedtime, there is no hope of me staying awake long enough to read more than a couple of lines. Needless to say, I would love to change this, and be a bit more disciplined about making time to read. I want Ruby to grow up with a great love for stories and reading, and I know that my actions and attitudes will influence this, be it in a positive or negative way.