Olivia, by Ian Falconer
Olivia, by Ian Falconer
Karina's getting more interested in fewer books - it's getting harder and harder to introduce new books, as she just wants to read the ones she knows over and over. That's pretty normal for her age from what I hear, and also I hear it's good for language acquisition, so I try not to mind too much. I actually don't mind reading things over and over (as fast she often wants to turn the pages, having them memorized is a good thing for me, too!), I just feel like there's so many books out there yet to read! I guess we've got time.
I do love that she's started bringing me books to read in the morning. I'm working from home, but I always have time to pause and read to her. Her latest thing is wanting me to just read the "Tumble bumble up the stairs" page in Tumble Bumble. She won't let me get to the rest of the book. She just turns back to "tumble bumble up the stairs" page over and over and over. I must say it silly or something.
She's also taken a great liking to The Big Hungry Bear, but she has a foible with this one, too - after we get through all the ways the mouse might guard or hide the strawberry, she flips backward through the book back to the beginning. I guess she's on to the narrator's extortion scheme and doesn't care to read that part!
As an example, it's 8:40am and we've already done both those things about three times, plus read But Not the Hippopotamus twice. I'll take it!
A to Z by Sandra Boynton
Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr.
Where's Spot by Eric Hill
Mirror Me: A Mirror Book (Baby Einstein)
Winnie the Pooh Colors
The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
When Karina got The Big Red Barn for Christmas, I initially didn't pull it out for a while, thinking the number of pages and words would be too much for her (she generally likes books about the length of Sandra Boynton's and starts wanting to close the book and start a new one if they're much longer than that). One day I pulled it out before a nap, and she was surprisingly into it.
Now it's our naptime go-to book. If I have a bunch of books on the lounge chair where I read to her before nap, she'll always pick The Big Red Barn, and if I start reading something else, she'll usually close it or be really restless until I switch. It's funny, because she's not been as big a fan of Goodnight, Moon, though she's starting to warm to it now as well.
I think she likes the very rhythmic lines in the book, as well as the animal pictures (though I point to every animal, she hasn't started connecting them very much yet - she still tends to call all people and animals "baby" if she talks about them at all). I've noticed that books with just individual words or non-rhythmic lines don't tend to hold her interest as much as rhythmic ones. It's worth noting that her other favorite author, Boynton, also uses poetic meter and rhyme in the text.
I've started reading her poetry and verse when I think about (I'm not much of a poetry person so I have to actively remember to do it), but she still gravitates back to The Big Red Barn. The combination of animals and soothing verse is utterly winning, especially right before a nap, although it's also a favorite for her to flip through on her own when she's awake.
The past couple of months, Karina's interaction with books has really blossomed. Not only can she turn pages and pull up tabs (as in Where's Spot), but she'll point to things she notices - usually people's heads or faces, but also anything brightly colored or obviously different from the rest of the page. That makes it the perfect time to haul out the "touch and feel" books, and thankfully, she got one for Christmas.
As we go page by page, she reaches right out for the textured surfaces - a woolly sheep, a soft chick, a rough piglet. But her favorite is the sheepdog, with its long, shaggy hair that's remarkably like our cat Killer's long shaggy fur. She loves to dig her hands into Killer's fur and YANK. Killer is decidedly less excited about this activity, and some days it takes pretty much all of my attention to keep her from bothering him.
But the sheepdog in the book? She can yank on that as much as she wants! Once she found that page, she kept returning to it over and over, uninterested in the rest of the pages past a single rote feel. Now her only difficulty is that it's hard to hold onto the fur and also put it in her mouth, because the rest of the book gets in the way. As a testament to the book's quality, she hasn't actually been able to pull any hair out at all. It's definitely well-made!
Okay, so she probably doesn't REALLY get the joke in Blue Hat, Green Hat yet. But we're getting there. When I first read the book a few months ago, I bust out laughing instantly in the book store. I called my husband over and said, you have to read this book. He was like, a board book? Okay, whatever. Read the first page, and he bust up, too. It's just our sort of humor, I suppose. Each page has three of Boynton's signature animals with a specific piece of clothing on - one has a blue hat, one has a green hat, one has a red hat, and then there's a turkey who has a hat...but instead of wearing it, he's standing in it. "Blue hat, green hat, red hat, OOPS." Each page does this, with a different mistake on the turkey's part on how to wear clothes.
Because there's not as much rhythm and rhyming to the words and the pictures are pretty repetitive except for clothing details, Karina hasn't really gotten into this one as much as some of the other Boynton books (especially The Going to Bed Book and Happy Hippo, Angry Duck). Until tonight. I've been reading it to her once in a while, not too regularly, but every time I do, I make a big deal about the "oops," saying it in a loud, high-pitched, silly voice. Tonight I did that, and when I got to the last couple of pages, Karina started giggling every time I got to the "oops." When we finished, I immediately read it again, and she giggled at every single "oops" and wanted to turn the pages to see the next one.
She's been laughing regularly at being tickled or kissed repeatedly on the cheeks and neck, but only in the past week or two has she started giggling and laughing at silly things we do - putting bowls on our heads or overreacting to things she does. She laughs or squeals at parts of The Going to Bed Book, but they tend to be parts where my husband tickles her as part of the story. This may be the first time she's giggled based purely on how the story is read. Of course it brought a huge smile to my face, too.
We've had Where's Spot for a few months now, and she's been fine with me reading it and looking in the flaps, but has only reached for the whole book herself (usually to put it in her mouth). This has been pretty typical, that she lets me read books for a while, but then wants to grab them and put a corner of them in her mouth. Just the last few days has she started taking one page at a time and turning it - she's only able to grab one page at a time if I hold it up a bit for her, but she definitely knows what to do with it.
Today I picked up Where's Spot and started holding the flaps open just a bit like I do the pages, and she went right for them, pulling up each flap to see what's behind them. She even got a few of them on her own! She still had to take a couple of gnaw breaks in the middle, but we're on our way to interactive reading.
This is probably the second book I can say with any real confidence that Karina recognizes and likes. I guess Goodnight Moon to some degree, but she doesn't greet that one with the enthusiasm that she greets The Going to Bed Book and now Happy Hippo, Angry Duck.
Once I noticed that she was beginning to remember and show delight for The Going to Bed Book after a lot of repetition, I decided to pick one book to read to her before most of her naps, and I picked this one (a propos because she is usually kind of moody and tired before naps). The simple but cute illustrations are easy for her to see and recognize, and when I open the book, she smiles really big and puts her hand on the bear as I start reading "Hello, little person! How are you today?"
This is apparently also destined to be her most beat-up book, as she usually "helps" me turn the pages and then grabs it from me to gnaw on it a little before she settles in for her nap. I guess it's good in many different ways. :)
We've been alternating The Going to Bed Book and Goodnight Moon to Karina at bedtime since she was about four months old. Now at eight months, she's clearly recognizing and remembering the books as we bring them out. She prefers The Going to Bed Book and will usually reach for it if we hold multiple books in front of her as options. Not always, but usually.
When Daddy starts reading the book, Karina gets a huge grin on her face, no matter how tired and fussy she's been up to that point. There are certain motions he's grown accustomed to make on certain pages (like dancing the book around a bit and humming a tune on the "exercise" page), and she coos with delight when he gets to those parts.
We've yet to notice such positive and predictable reactions on any other books, so the bar has been set, Ms. Boynton. The bar has been set.