Do You Desire To Bring Your Child Into The Kingdom?

It's hard enough to be a Christian parent in this world. How do we combat the forces of evil while at the same time raise our children to desire to walk in God's light? By seeking His face, His Word and inspiration from each other as we stumble through this parenting process together. You will find all the instruction, encouragement and resources you need right here at The Greatest Mission Trip You'll Ever Take to help you be the most effective witness to your child that God would have you be. Look around and come back often. Let's learn together.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

How I Taught My Toddlers To Let Me Read To Them

I made a decision that when the children turned one I would begin the process of introducing them to books. Let me emphasize the word process. I understood that making readers of my children wouldn’t be accomplished in weeks or months, but years.

I started with one of those cardboard picture books, sturdy enough for the most rambunctious toddler and with pages thick enough for inexperienced fingers to turn. I would sit down on the floor with the book in front of me and call the child over.

“Look what I have here!” I would exclaim with bubbling enthusiasm. Curious, my child would toddle over, look briefly to see what I was making a fuss over, then wander back to whatever it was she was previously doing. I would turn to the first page, exclaim “Look, a bunny!” and wait for my child to toddle back over to fulfill her curiosity once more. Back and forth we did this, page after page, day after day, never reading a word but simply pointing to an object on each page.

Using the same book I would then progress to pointing out what was happening on the pages. “Oh look, the bunny is smelling a flower.” I still wouldn’t be reading any words, but my pointing out what was happening in the pictures corresponded with the storyline of the book.

In time I would get to reading the words, still calling my child over page by page. Running my finger left to right under the words, I’d say, “Oh look what this says: ‘Bunny likes smelling the flowers in spring.’” Then I would point out the activity in the picture, developing a connection between the words and illustration, thus establishing the purpose for the book.

Young children, especially toddlers and preschoolers, learn by repetition. They like being masters of their little universe, which explains why they can watch the same video twenty times and never get tired of it, while you’re ready to throw the TV out the window if you have to listen to that same stupid song one more time. In their mind, they are mastering the dialogue, the songs and the activities.

Eventually, because I used the same book and kept drawing my child back into the story, she wanted to hear the whole story all at once. Shortly thereafter, she would retrieve the book herself and ask me to read it to her. Once I reached that success, it was time to introduce another book. Because she was so enamored with the first one, though, I had to do some bargaining with her.

Let’s look at the pictures in this one, I’d say, and then we can read the bunny book. The transition was a little rocky, but I won out, me being the one who can read and all. Nonetheless I found it quite charming when, in her rebellion, she sat down away from me and “read” the bunny book, showing she didn’t need me setting the rules for what she could and could not read.

This may seem a very good primer on how to introduce your child to reading, but it is also necessary for establishing a foundation for eventually reading the Bible with your child. As I wrote in the previous post, it wasn’t all that long ago when the reason for teaching children to read was so they could read the Bible for themselves. Very few children went on to higher education, but it was considered a God-given duty to read your Bible.

As your child begins to sit for longer and longer periods of time you will be able to move on to other books, books with paper pages and more words or sentences on the page. It is necessary, of course, to make a deliberate decision to read every day to your child. I promise you, there is nothing so luscious as ending your day with your child sitting in your lap and reading a story together. Even if it’s for the ninetieth time.

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