Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Reading with Little Miss Muffet and Little Bo Peep, February 2016

This short month flew right by! Here are some notes on what Little Miss Muffet and Little Bo Peep have been reading lately.

Making Sense of Bad Behavior 

As Miss Muffet struggles her way through the highs and lows of the terrible twos, she is really enjoying books about children who misbehave, but are loved and forgiven by their parents all the same. She requests multiple daily readings of Harriet, You'll Drive Me Wild by Mem Fox, a used copy of which we bought at a local book sale several months ago. Realizing how much she enjoyed that book, I grabbed a copy of No, David the next time we visited the library, and she quickly memorized the text of that as well. We have had the book almost three weeks now, and frequently she can be heard "reading" it aloud to her beloved baby doll. I think this is the first time I have really seen her connect with the emotional experience of a character in a book. Harriet and David clearly comfort her during the times when she is driving her parents wild - and we can also talk about her behavior in terms of what happens in those books. 


Miss Muffet is still really interested in singable books. We checked a few out of the library on our last trip, but by far, her favorite is Sing, Tom Lichtenheld's adaptation of the famous Sesame Street song by Joe Raposo. The early part of the story is wordless, which she likes because she can read it by herself, and then it goes through the song, a few words at a time as a guitar-playing boy helps a little bird gain the courage to sing its own tune. I was not crazy about this adaptation when it first came out because it didn't fit with my nostalgic feelings about the song, but after reading it dozens of times, I have to admit it is growing on me. 

Unrealistic Early Literacy Tips

Poor Little Bo Peep doesn't get nearly as much reading time as her big sister did at her age. I don't worry about it much, because even when we're not talking directly to her, she is still surrounded by all of us talking, reading, and singing all day long. Still, having a second child does make me realize how truly unrealistic many early literacy tips are for parents. I see these tips in many places around the web - blogs, library websites, emails from my library system, etc. - and I recognize the good intentions behind them, but many of them show a gross misunderstanding of what caring for small children is really like. For example, singing to a baby during every diaper change sounds like a lovely idea, but in practice, diaper changes are rarely these calm bonding moments. Rather, the baby's diapers are changed quickly before her big sister finds something to climb, break, or throw away. I wish libraries would stop trying to prove how important they are by always trying to come up with the next new clever literacy tip, and instead just focus on showing people how to have fun with books. Every family can find a way to do that, no matter how many children they have. 

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