Yep! Never thought I would be yelling this to a 15 month old, but after three ouchies (banged her head on the kitchen table when she was busy “reading”, stumbled on a toy and fell while she was walking and reading and then banged her head again on a wall while reading), it is a warning I need to keep giving my toddler.
Alright, I’m not complaining. Even before she was born, I hoped and hoped that she would love being read to and then reading by herself. I know what they say about reading to your unborn baby, but honestly, I felt a little silly reading to my bump, so I saved the reading bit for after she was born. One of the first things her Dad bought for her was a big fat book of bedtime stories that is now hidden in a box with other beautiful pop-up books that are in the risk of being mangled in her curious hands. Well, mercifully we are past the “put it in your mouth” phase, so at least the new books we got for her will not have frayed edges from being chewed on. I did mention the books we got for her, right? Oh wait, I wrote a whole post on that.
The morning invariably starts with her favorite book, 123 Peas. It doesn’t matter if it is 5:45am and still dark outside, and I am trying to rub the sleep off my eyes and stifling the umpteenth yawn. If she walks up to her shelf, brings me the book and climbs onto my lap, I am obliged to read it to her. And then again after we finish reading it. The other day, when for a change she was playing with her alphabet train, and I started reciting “1 pea searching, look look look!” more out of habit than anything else, she paused to look at me, marched to her shelf and picked out the 123 Peas book for me! What amazed me was that it was on the shelf right next to the LMNO Peas, which has a very similar spine, but she picked the right one straightaway. Wondering if it was just because it is her favorite, I “tested” her by saying “Blue Hat Green Hat Red Hat Oops!” and sure enough, she picked up the right book (Blue Hat, Green Hat) again.
So far, she knows around six books (the ones that are read the most) but each time she picks up the right book on my prompt, I am still amazed. Specially each time she picks up a book on a prompt for the first time. It is almost funny, the way she dismisses the wrong book and tosses it on the floor. I guess I can safely say now that I have a toddler who loves her books. And for now, that is the best thing that I can say.
We do have a playroom, with all her toys stashed in boxes, a couple of wagon and ride-on thingies, and I recently got her her first Mega Bloks bag (which the husband and I play with more than her) and a flimsy plastic supermarket playset that she played with non-stop for a few days, but the books are what she plays with the most. They are everywhere: scattered on the couch, lying randomly on the floor, some in the living room, some in the bedroom…. I think I spend half the day arranging and rearranging the books on the shelf. Yes, that tiny shelf that isn’t even completely filled with books. Yet.
The blessed books are also a great attention seeking tactic. I’d be in the kitchen, doing something that requires my constant attention, and she’d walk up to me, holding a book in her hands, whining until I pick her up and read to her. I’d be lying if I say it doesn’t work the other way round too. She could be in the middle of a full blown tantrum, but a single “1 pea searching…” from me makes her forget about whatever she was whining about and go get her book.
We are in the middle of ordering our next shipment of books from Amazon, and I am taking my own sweet time trying to decide which ones to get. I specially love the ones that are funny and quirky, like the Hands Hands Fingers Thumb which starts with a “Dum Ditty Dum Ditty Dum Dum Dum”. I think books like that are great for reading aloud. I also love the ones that have potential to be interactive, like the Elmo Says book (a take on Simon Says).
As I look forward (a little scared, but yes, looking forward) to being on my own with her without my live-in helper to give me a break from time to time, I am arming myself with everything possible to keep a busy toddler occupied. I am trying to get a wide variety of open ended toys, but something tells me I don’t really have to be worried. That something could be the fact that she plays peek-a-boo using her books, drags the books on the floor like a car, and even as I write this, she’s using a fold-out book lying on the floor as a carpet and walking on each page counting “One-Two-Threeeeeeee!”
Off to rescue the book now. And to stop her from stumbling on the others scattered all around. Who knew books could be a hazard?