One of the things my parents gave me that I’m most grateful for is my love of reading. I grew up in a house filled with books and until the age of eight, my dad read to me each night before bed. They started reading to me early, one of the first words I said was ‘voorlezen’, read to me in Dutch, and to this day my dad can recite my favourite book as an eighteen-month-old toddler from memory, the book being Poesje Nel by Dick Bruna. I can’t remember not being read to or reading myself and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Since my parents read almost exclusively in English, I started reading English books when I was in Group 7 of elementary school. I took home Orwell’s Animal Farm from the library and never looked back, even now I only occasionally read a Dutch book, most of my fare is in English.
So, that being said, when we became parents to a little girl last year, one of the things I promised myself was that I’d try and pass on my love of books and reading to Emma and I would try and teach her English from a young age as well. So I started reading to her from day one, well day three actually. I’d read to her from my own books at first, as she didn’t understand anyway, so she heard parts of N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Joni Sensel’s The Farwalker’s Quest, Michelle Moran’s Cleopatra’s Daughter, Patrick Rothfuss’ Name of the Wind, Blake Charlton’s Spellwright, all of Brent Weeks’ books, Beowulf and Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon to name but a few. At first it was just so she could hear my voice and fall asleep when she was fussy, but pretty soon she actually stayed awake and seemed to listen, even though she couldn’t have understood any of it. Now that’s she’s eleven months, I still read to her from my books from time to time, but we’ve also started to read to her from some of the picture books we have and it’s amazing to see our little bundle of energy just sit and look at the story we tell her.
She even has her own play books, which she loves. And any time she sees a book or something remotely like it lying around, she’ll make a grab for it. Books and anything with buttons and computers, those are her favourite ‘can’t touch, but want to’-items, she truly is our daughter in that. It’s also made it interesting now she’s crawling because the books on the bottom shelves are no longer safe from her curious explorations. Never mind that their are the size and heft of Chihuahua maimers, such as the Jordan hardbacks and the Potter hardbacks, she’ll lift the out of the case. As a result we’ve had to move all the books up a shelf and now have a bare row along the bottom of the book cases!
I thought it would be fun to do some semi-regular posts (once every few months) on Emma and how and what we’re reading with her. And also maybe get some tips from the more experienced parents out there. How did you inspire your kids to read? What are some of the classic stories you think any parent should read to their children? And for those of you that are bi-lingual, how did you do that with your kids, did you have the same titles in both languages and alternate them or just books in both languages and read whatever they asked for?
So what do you think? Do you think this would be a fun addition to the blog or do you think I should avoid any baby talk? Any suggestions on what we could read to Emma?