Friday, January 22, 2010

Reading with Boys and Girls

It is so fun and interesting to watch boy girl twins develop along side each other. They are so different right from the start. My twins are 14 months old but if you adjust their age for their early birth they are only 10 months old. Developmentally they are probably somewhere in between 10 and 14 months.

I've been excited to mentor Chloe and Liam through core phase and watching for when they'd be ready to enjoy books with our family. We have a very strong culture of reading. Bookshelves stuffed with books are in every room of our home. We don't have a TV in our living/family room so there is nothing to do in there but talk or play with others, or read. I find Isabel at various times and places throughout the day curled up with a picture book or trying hard to read a few words in a chapter book. Whenever I'm not taking care of basic care and feeding of my family I'm reading to myself or with someone else, most often Isabel. So the twins have grown up seeing that reading is what people do.

We have a shelf of much-loved board books that the twins know they can play with. They've recently seemed to be bored with these and have been very persistently exploring the other shelves in there reach where picture books and chapter books live. Now that they can pull to standing, there universe has grown dramatically. My first inclination was to protect the books from the twins. Both of them like to tear and chew paper. But I've noticed that often, if I will just take whatever book they have and show it to them, slowly turning the pages, describing the pictures, and letting them feel the pages, that will satisfy their curiosity. I've tried to remember when I started reading picture books to Isabel and I can't. I know I read a few of them to her when she was as young as 6 months old. I don't know how old she was when she started bringing them to me to read. I just know we've read hundreds and hundreds of picture books.

Today instead of redirecting Chloe from the picture book she was exploring I sat her in my lap and read it to her. She was so happy. She reached out to touch a page occasionally but otherwise she was perfectly still in my lap and seemed very interested in what I was reading. Liam on the other hand, was initially interested and sat down with us but within 2 pages he was crawling back to the forbidden bookshelves trying to take down a book and "play" (in the roughest sense of the word) with it. This including shaking the book, trying to bend and tear pages, and mouthing it. I took the book away from him and tried to engage him in listening to the book I was reading to Chloe but of course, he just fought his way back to the forbidden bookshelf. Soon after, Isabel came to the room with an overstuffed toy animal, bigger than the twins, that we call "fat lamby" and when Liam saw it he begged Isabel to let him play with it (Liam doesn't say a whole lot but he can do really compelling puppy dog eyes and combined with some vigorous bouncing and whining it's not hard to figure out what he wants). She consented and Liam began wrestling with "fat lamby", one of our family's favorite things to watch. Chloe continued to sit with me while I read 5 books and then she decided to go play.

I have friends with boys and I've read a lot of things about the differences in the way they play and learn so I wasn't surprised by this morning's experience but it was fascinating to see it play out with my own kids. I know many of Isabel's friends that are boys spend far more time playing with blocks and legos than reading and she wants to spend at least half her day being read to. I won't be surprised if I see something similar with Chloe and Liam.


Dane Yancey said...

This is a really cute post. Dane and I saw the picture of Chloe and Liam and started clapping and laughing out loud! It's crazy for us to see them standing! They look so darn cute with their little onesie buns standing up! We love those babies!

Christina said...

Joshua's always loved being read to. He loves his legos too. Quite often he'll play with his legos when I am reading aloud!

Miss you guys.

Michael Family said...

Reading preferences may depend on gender, but I've seen something different in my own kids. James loves reading and letters/numbers. Even as a newborn he was fascinated. He learned his alphabet very early. I thought Katie would be the same way, but she had no interest in books as a baby. Whenever I would read to her, she would crawl away to go play and explore. Now she can sit for longer, but still doesn't have the same passion that James does. It will be fun for you to see how the twins grow and develop their love for books!

Sea Star said...

Oh, this is so true. Boys always seem to need the physical stimulus so much more then girls. Sophie has always craved book after book and still listens to audio books almost non stop because I can't read to her all day. My boys do love to be read to and will drop their play when I say... ok... pick me a book to read to you. Their book choices too are very different. Good things there are so many different kinds of books on our shelves.

Jennifer said...

It's fun to hear what you more experienced mothers of boys have to say. I will be very interested to see how things play out with my twins over time. I can't tell yet how it affects him but Liam is often in the room while I'm reading to Isabel and now Chloe. He just can't sit still of course:)

Bottger Family said...

I look forward to hearing your insights on reading to Liam as he grows. He is so darling!

I am experiencing a very similar situation with my kiddies & would love ideas on how to engage my boys.

I have found that Thomas really enjoys Elsa's books on tape that we listen to in the car.

Lance said...

That pictures is too cute. And they are still so TINY. That really puts it into perspective seeing them stand up.
I've loved reading all of your posts.