My current irrational fear about my children is that my 14 month old is going to end up illiterate.
She hates books. Well, that’s not entirely true. She loves throwing books. She loves carrying books around. She loves chewing on books. Reading books? Not so much.
She screams, I mean SCREAMS, and cries (real tears) if you try to sit her on your lap and read her a book. Mostly because she wants to have control of the book. She wants to hold it upside down, or sideways, and open to the same page 500 times in a row. So, for awhile I would read whatever page she opened to every time she opened to that page. Have you ever noticed how board books always open to the same page? Well, they do. I would read one page like 70 times and then, by some stroke of luck, she’d open to another page and I’d read that one. Only to go back to having to read the first page another 20 times. All while my 3.5 year old is yelling “THAT’S NOT HOW IT GOES!” in my ear.
Now we’ve moved on to our new mode of “reading” books, which is this: she sits on our padded play may about 10-12 feet away from me with a giant pile of books in front of her. I sit in the chair that is right next to her book shelf and pull books off of it and read them to her as I would read them to a class full of children in front of me (showing her the pictures, etc). She full on ignores me and “reads” the books she has with her. And, about once every 3 minutes, she makes eye contact with the book I’m reading and gives me some glimmer of hope that she won’t be illiterate when she’s 10.
If she were my first child, I probably wouldn’t think twice about all this. However, my first child was “reading” books for 3 and 4 year olds when she was 9 months old. No joke. She sits COMPLETELY STILL and DOESN’T MAKE A SOUND when someone reads to her over FaceTime (which happens often for her). One time I thought I would try and see how many books she would read in a row without wanting to stop. Stupid, stupid mom. We went about an hour and a half and I had no voice left. She reads anything and everything. She remembers nearly every word of every book she has ever read even if she’s only read it once. She asks questions about the characters’ motives and the setting. She retells stories to anyone who will listen. She knows every famous fairy tale and likes to have them recited to her. She is never more happy than when an adult is giving her their full attention and reading her a book. She’s been that way since she was an infant.
So, clearly I have two different people on my hands. In fact, the more I’ve been thinking about it lately, the more I’ve realized that they’re quite different in a lot of ways. But, the fact that my 14 month old has absolutely no patience for reading has begun to worry me. We don’t let her watch television and so you’d think she would be DYING for something to look at and listen to. We have probably 150 board books and I’ve tried them all. We have the ones where you can feel the pictures. Not interested. We have ones that are just lists of things instead of an actual story. Nope. I have tried reading more advanced books (non board books) to her. No go. She just doesn’t want to do anything more than play with her books in her own time and space.
She’ll want to read someday, right?