Monday, October 3, 2016

The Tedium of Early Literacy

We all agree that it's important to read to our children, right? I mean, it seems as if the experts believe reading to your kids from birth--if not when they're still in utero--will result in everything from higher intelligence to better verbal skills to improved SAT scores.

This is all well and good, but have you ever had the privilege of introducing young children to books? First they squirm in your lap and try to tear the books apart. Then they squirm in your lap, fall on the floor, and chew on the books at every opportunity. Then they might sit on your lap, but only for two pages and only if you stay on those two pages for an interminable length of time while they point to the bird over and over and expect you to say bird every single time they point to it. If you do not say bird, they will be enraged.

And then, finally, they actually will sit still for an entire book! It's a magical, special bonding experience that quickly degenerates into what pretty much all of parenthood ultimately comes down to: unrelenting tedium. Because small children, they want to read the same books over and over and over and over and OH MY GOD, I CANNOT READ GOODNIGHT MOON AGAIN, CHILD.

Jack is currently in this phase of wanting to read a book dozens of times in a row. I literally cannot sit down without him finding one of his current favorites and bringing it to me. He flings it in my lap and prepares to haul himself up. If I tell him I can't read at that very moment, he will scream.

Just yesterday as A. was preparing for his fourth consecutive reading of Curious George Makes Pancakes, he sighed and said, "We've got to get these kids into television."

He was joking. I think. But I'm quite serious when I say that I have actually hidden The Big Caribou Herdrather than read it one more time.

If Jack gets less than 1400 on his SATs, he can blame me.

*  This is actually a fantastic book that I highly recommend if you know children who can sit still for a pretty long non-fiction book about real animals. All of my children LOVE this book. The length of it makes me love it a little less than they do, but it's still enjoyable to read. The first three times, anyway.


Anonymous said...

I remember my little sister learning to read at 4 years by having the Pokey Little Puppy read to her so many times she memorized the text and could recite it to you word for word. She came to recognize the words on the page matched what she was reciting and then she took off reading. Kids and their obsessive behaviors are so much fun (in hindsight).

There is a serious need for more kids books that have humor in them to keep the adults awake.

Sheila Z

tu mere said...

Seems that all kids are the same when it comes to repetitive anything. I was glad to read it's a positive learning thing, not a conscious decision to drive parents nuts, although, as you know, that definitely comes later. After reading your last two blogs (sorry, I'm a bit behind), I'm convinced you should be writing a column for your local newspaper, if you have one that is.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes..I like tu mere's suggestion. Writing a column.

Susan said...

As always, I love your blog. Hope this makes you giggle.

Susan said...

Well, shoot. The link isn't working. It's a book for parents called, "Go the Fuck to Sleep." It was published too late for me to read (NOT) to my children but I sure understood the sentiment.