Now that my baby, five-month-old Strawberry Shortcake, is sleeping through the night, I find myself embracing a bedtime storytime, something my older child and I had ceased to make a regular bedtime habit. I hadn’t realized how much I’ve missed it.
Raisin and I have continued to read picture books every day, even though he is well into reading early chapter books by himself (more on that soon). But when Raisin, Strawberry, and I are all gathered together on the couch for our after-lunch storytime, our reading time becomes lots of “don’t hit your sister” mini-lectures and carefully choreographed page turns to get the pages out of Strawberry’s reach (she’s in to grabbing things right now). When she’s not with us, Raisin likes to take a turn reading a page or a story to me.
Reading with a baby is so very different.
I found our copy of Goodnight Moon, a book I simply loved reading to Raisin when he was an infant and one of the only ones we had in his early babyhood. I sat in the rocking chair, with Strawberry cradled on my side. The pages were just out her reach. She was fed, dressed for bed and obviously tired. But as I began reading and pointing to the objects as we bid them goodnight, she turned her face away from the book and gazed steadily at me. I pointed again at the book and repeated the next page, but she didn’t turn her gaze. Her eyes were delighted and a soft smile settled on her face. She wanted to watch me reading to her. She loved it.
I finished the last line: ‘Goodnight noises everywhere.” Then I turned the book over and read it again. Her smile never wavered, but this time she turned toward the book and gazed steadily at it. I finished the story the second time and closed it, bidding goodnight to the familiar objects in her bedroom as we rose from the chair. As I placed her in her crib, she gave me a last smile and searched for her thumb, closing her eyes in peaceful contentment.
I know that in the coming months we’ll reach the storytime milestones of baby trying to rip the book, turn the pages herself, eat the book, squirm off my lap, and otherwise sabotage the sweet, close special moment I so enjoy about bedtime storytime. But for right now, I’m going to savor the peaceful moment. Reading with my baby is a highlight of our new bedtime routine.