Encouraging early reading has sort of gotten a bad rap. For the love of me, I can’t understand why. I was an early reader. My father was an early reader. My son is now also an early reader, and it’s turned him into a happy and precocious little kid who reads some surprisingly humongous words on TV (I frequently watch with closed captions on) and will sometimes sneak behind me to read my websites over my shoulder so he can commentate on the stuff I might be reading.
Not so bad, in my opinion, although some of the questions I get are rather interesting.
We also encouraged it because the more he reads, the better he can protect himself given his food allergies (I’ve probably mentioned this in other posts). So now at the age of 5 he can read the side of a box like nobody’s business, and one of his greatest professed motivations in life is to learn to write a letter to McDonald’s asking them why they won’t make stuff that’s safe for him.
But, teaching him to read wasn’t all about self-defence or doing due-diligence as an angry letter-writing Canadian.
I love books; it’s the cheapest, fastest trip to a fascinating and different form of reality there is, and I wanted to share that love. Okay, I might have had some escapist tendencies as a kid that persist into my adulthood. But I can’t deny the profound impact that reading early had on my life. Anybody who has come to this blog before knows how important knowledge is to me. I see no downside to teaching a child to read and think as early as they want to learn.
There are many books I read as a kid when I was my own son’s age that I still remember better than what I had for lunch yesterday. I’ve had some great fun sharing a lot of them with him, and I’ve got many more waiting for him to be just a little bit older: classics like Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Indian in the Cupboard, the Narnia series, and Journey to the Center of the Earth. I’ve got lots more “trashy” stuff that I still had loads of fun reading, like Sideways Stories from Wayside School, and Goosebumps.
(Incidentally, if anybody remembers the name of the series from 30+ years ago about the girl who built a robot out of the spare parts in her attic, please let me know in the comments!)
As much as I love the old ones, there’s always room on our bookshelves for new books to love. Allow me to introduce you to my custom built (by me, yes, I’m humbragging) “hardcover bookshelf” in the living room:
This bookcase represents maybe about a third of my total collection. I’ve got ones dedicated to paperbacks downstairs. And cookbooks in the kitchen. And an e-reader that’s half full. And then, too, all the books that are in my son’s room, mostly in boxes, till we hie over to Home Depot or something and get cracking on building his bookcase too.
No, I don’t have enough books.
I recently obtained five more beautifully illustrated and unusual children’s books in the Chronicle Spring Picture Book collection from Raincoast Books of Vancouver:
- Lately Lily – about a young girl’s exotic travels with her parents and the fun things she experiences.
- Here Comes Destructosaurus – a cute story about a rampaging monster on the loose!
- Busy Bunny Days – like a younger-child’s version of “Where’s Waldo.” The detail on the pages was amazing, and we spent a long time looking at each page seeing what all the characters were up to throughout the day.
- The Same Moment Around the World – about what’s happening in all the time-zones around the worlds at the same time.
- and I Didn’t Do My Homework Because – which makes “the dog ate my homework” look pretty tame by comparison.
We had a great time reading a different book each night last week. My personal favourites were Busy Bunny Days (for the interactivity) and The Same Moment Around the World, because I’ve never encountered a kid’s book quite like this one.
Jake had his own favourite (it’s clearly a boy thing):
Disclaimer: I received copies of all the above books in exchange for this post.