The Bookish Baby

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?

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4 Responses to The Bookish Baby

  1. Ellen says:

    I started reading childrens books to my daughter when she was around 2 months old. At about 16 months old, if I missed a word she would correct me. I thought it was because she knew the story by heart. However, soon I realized that she was starting to read simple words herself. It was as if while she had been read to, she began to read herself. I had a couple of teacher friends who thought I was imagining her reading so young. Until they read her some books she had not seen before, missing a few words and her correcting them. I don't know if this is common with children who are read to, but it can't hurt. She was schooled in french immersion and never had any problem with going betwwen both languages. So yes I definately think you should read to your kids. It can only be a asset to them and of course now in her thirties, she is a avid reader!

  2. Love it, she's so cute! I have a 7 month old and he just loves books too. It's so fun, I can't believe I used to have a completely different life without him.

  3. Mieneke says:

    Thanks Ellen!

    And thanks Bryce :) It's weird imagining live without them isn't it? Emma went for a sleepover with her gran this weekend and I was sooo glad when she came home. It was only a day or so, but I missed her so much!

  4. Magemanda says:

    I *definitely* want to see more of Emma on your blog :-) After all, you are now a mum as well and it gives a different perspective to your reading. I want to hear more about that! Like when you said on the Tor re-read about not being able to read bad things about children in books since having Emma – that's all special stuff which adds something to your blogging and reviewing.

    Personally my house was always full of books and reading as I grew up and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

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