Tag Archives: reading

She Says… The Next Chapter

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Let’s talk about chapter books, shall we?

Chapter books are a milestone I didn’t think we would be ready for until, oh, I don’t know, age 6 or so. I’m not sure why I had that arbitrary number in my head, but I assumed that my needs-to-move, kinesthetic learner (aka wild child who can’t possibly sit still for more than 5 seconds at a time) wouldn’t want to sit still for long enough to listen to pages of books without many/any pictures. I doubted he’d be very engaged. He loves to be read to, and to look through books, so I’m not sure why I wrote them off, but I just thought we weren’t quite there yet.

So I had been saving the “books with too many words” up on a high shelf in his closet as they have been gifted to us or accumulated along the way. But a few days ago, Owen asked me to pull them down so he could see them. He carefully examined the covers and then handed me “The Secret Garden” and begged me to read it.

As usual, he surprises me again.

Ok, so this one isn’t technically a chapter book, but it’s much, much longer than any book I’ve ever read to Owen. This story is very special to me, and I’ve been saving this particular copy since I was a little girl. I loved this story and read it over and over and over again as a child. Then, when I was a musical theater-obsessed sophomore in high school, I got the coveted part of Mary Lennox in the musical the boys’ school across the street from my school was putting on. It was a dream come true. It was my first lead role in a musical, and the start of what I thought would someday become my road to being a Broadway star (spoiler alert! I never made it there).

So I started reading to Owen and immediately realized it uses words I tend to shy away from (name calling like “horrible witch!” and words like “hate”) and topics like death and chronic illness. But, as these are all parts of life that he’ll come into contact with eventually, I resisted the urge to edit the words or omit certain sentences. We’re all growing up a little bit, eh?

He was hanging on my every word. He asked very astute questions like, “What’s a moor?” and then, when I told him, he asked follow-up questions like, “I wonder what animals live on a moor? Birds? Maybe… mice? Or voles?”. Once in a while I stopped and clarified part of the story or asked him things like, “Who do you think is crying?” to see if he was really following along (because it’s not always so clear — the sentence structure is different than most of his books and the references are vague and there are lots of names). He was right there with me every time.

When we were about halfway through, it was past his bedtime and I told him we could stop and read the rest the next night. He bargained for more pages (either really into the book or just stalling bedtime… you decide…) and we settled on 2 more pages, then I showed him how to fold down the corner of the page so we could start there the next morning. The next morning he came into my room with the book in hand and asked me to finish it. And finish it we did, before his normal milk or tv show. Unprecedented.

That night at bedtime we started “The House at Pooh Corner”. It was one we had been gifted a year or so ago, and it had been relegated to the top shelf because it was so dense. I figured it had to be appropriate for kids (duh, it’s Winnie the Pooh), and it is, but what I didn’t realize was that the writing is terribly confusing, especially to read aloud. As an adult I see how clever it is and find so much humor in the writing, but a three year old, even an astute 3 year old, doesn’t necessarily pick up on those things. So we’re halfway through at the moment, and Owen loves it, but I’m thinking there have to be better 1st chapter books out there somewhere.

I’m not sure we’re ready for Harry Potter yet (though perhaps not far off!). So what are the best chapter books for little ones? I would love a series, since Owen loves to get multiple books out of the library in a series (we love anything Pinkalicious and Toot and Puddle). Owen’s teacher recommended “The Magic Treehouse” series, so that’s on the list, even though I’ve never heard of them.

Suggestions?

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She Says… Photographic Memory

Another early morning wakeup this morning. Sigh. No night terror-like screaming this time, just crying. But ever since I considered the possibility that Owen might be struggling with an ear infection, I’ve been looking for signs that would send us to the doctor to get it checked out. The third night of interrupted sleep in a row was just the sign I needed. Hoping I can snag the last appointment of the day today and run over there after work/daycare. He’s acting fine and doesn’t have a fever or really any other symptoms (except a little dry cough and boogery nose), but usually when I get this feeling, I’m right.

If nothing else I’ll feel better knowing he’s not in pain and can leave him to self-soothe a bit longer so we can all get back to full nights of sleep.

Ever since Owen started talking, his vocabulary has amazed me. The kid repeats just about everything we say and will start using the new words immediately. And correctly. He talks and talks and talks. He’s funny. He uses adult-like inflection and body language to emphasize his words. Watching him figure out how to string words together is one of the most fascinating things I’ve ever seen. It’s almost as if you can see the gears working in his head, choosing words and sounds.

We’re dying to get him talking on video (both for you and for posterity’s sake), but as soon as we pull out the camera or the iPhone, he’s all, “Pikkers! See! Pikkers! Owen! See! Pikkers!” and then he won’t rest until he’s looking at himself. Someday soon, though, I hope. The way he pronounces words melts me over and over again.

Lately he’s gotten to the point where if I repeat something back incorrectly, he’ll say, “No, Mommy” and repeat it again until I get it. Sometimes he gets frustrated, but generally he’s really good at helping me understand what he’s saying. Or maybe I’m just really good at guessing. Probably a little bit of both.

We have some of the same conversations over and over again. When we drive to school in the morning he always talks about the playground that we pass. “Drive. School. By. Dee-dah.” (“Dee-dah” is still one of those weird words he says strangely, even though I’m sure he could say it correctly now).

  • When we turn on to our street in the car he says, “All done car! Home! Doggie.”.
  • When we go by bakeries, and now specifically Dunkin Donuts, he shouts, “Coffees! DUNKIN’ DONUTS.”. What? We’re from Boston 🙂 Benjamin taught him “Dunkin Donuts” and he’s so hilarious when he says it that we always laugh. Now he thinks it’s the punchline to the best joke ever, and whenever we ask him, “Where do we go to get coffees?” he waits for a long time while a HUGE smile creeps onto his face, and then shouts at the top of his lungs, “DUNKIN’ DOH-A-NUTS!”. What a little joker.
  • A few weeks ago when we were at the mall there was a boy wearing a mask at the kids’ play area and it scared Owen. It was the first time I’ve ever seen him scared. Ever since then he’s been rehashing the story over and over. “Boy. ‘Cared. Mask. Mommy there! Hold you.”
  • One day “the animal guy” came to his daycare and had rabbits and guinea pigs and birds. And, apparently, a carrot in his pocket. That was months ago, and Owen is still talking about “Carrot. Pocket. Bunny — hop hop! Hold animals. Birdie wings!”

He also loves to talk about books that we read. The last few weeks I have introduced some longer books with paper pages (rather than board books) and the kid is smitten. Smitten, I tell you! He loves to read the same book over and over and talk about the stories even when we’re not reading them. I’m proud to say he’s so in love with them that not a single one has gotten ripped. Yet.

  • When we hear church bells he is certain that Mr. Parker from The Best Nest rang them. So hearing church bells on Sunday mornings turns into a complete retelling of the story, complete with all of the things we talk about in each of the pictures that are in no way related to the story. It’s almost like Owen has a photographic memory. He notices tiny little things in pictures and remembers exactly what page they are on and where.
  • The other night he was holding Is Your Mama a Llama while I changed his diaper and he opened it to a page and said, “Lloyd. Silly! Llama.” (which were some of the words on that page). It was like he was reading, but clearly he just remembered the words that I say while he looks at the pictures on that particular page.
  • We recently got an I Spy book. He pours over the pages looking for things. I’ll say, “I Spy a… Choo choo! A bike! A red ball!” and he finds each one. The next time I say one of those items, he remembers exactly where they are and turns the pages until he finds them and taps the item proudly.

Our conversations just keep getting better and better. He knows and understands almost every word I use now, so I rarely have to “dumb down” my speech for him. Even if he doesn’t say them all back, I can just talk to him like a big kid and he gets it.

I guess that’s how it happens. Kids grow up. And they “get” things. And they learn how to talk back. I’m sure someday I’ll be wishing he would stop talking, but for now I could listen to him talk all day.