I created the 1000 Books Project for myself when I reviewed an inspiring book about infant and toddler literacy, and I picked that book up because I felt bored with the picture books I’d been reading and rereading and rereading with my son. There, I said it: I was getting bored reading with my son.
Besides, reading the children’s books that I wanted to read (like Newbery or Caldecott winners and historical children’s literature) wasn’t always at the right level for my young son: my son is only two. I needed a way to be motivated to read with my son.
I read a lot of books myself (as my 2009 in stats might attest) and yet, a good part of my day before, after, in between my reading is taking care of my young son. My new goal is to read 1000 books with my son in approximately four years. Not just any books: different books. (Note: Before, I intended 1000 books by his fifth birthday. I have since decided on his sixth birthday.)
A few people have questioned the reasons why there is a number: Why not just spend time reading? I think that’s a great goal for any parent. Although I am not a professional by any means (and please don’t take my comments as if I were), I think reading and rereading is what a kid needs most, and I intend to continue rereading with my son all the time.
But as I mentioned, I was getting bored. I really didn’t look forward to the ten minutes before bed when we read because I’d already read The Little Red Caboose five to ten times that day.
My goals in this project is to go beyond togetherness time and make it fun for both of us. My goal is that in seeking out new books every few weeks, we will find new favorites, my son will find new concepts that interest him, and as a result, he will develop new vocabulary and understanding of the world around him. At some point, I anticipate reading together might help him when he needs to learn to read, but for us now, when he’s two, it’s to help him learn about the world around him.
- Find new favorite books (books we reread five times a day)
- Learn new vocabulary and concepts
- Try to find an interest beyond trains and trucks because Mommy is getting bored
Our First 80 Books (or So)
The running list of 1000 books in progress is on the 1000 Books Project page. Below, I will mention books that have not been mentioned already elsewhere on this site. Because this first batch of books includes books we own and already reread many times a day, it was much easier to get to 80 books than the next ones will take! I will have to seek a bit more carefully for the next group of books. Finally, a number of books we own that we’ve read did not make it on this list so I’ll make sure to count them next time.
Also, this post is incredibly long. I’ll have to post about children’s books more often, I guess, because I have so much to say!
I always thought I was a fan of Dr. Seuss until I tried to read aloud to my son when he was an infant. It’s not so easy to read and the repetition becomes rather tedious. But I’ve decided Dr. Seuss’s books need to be given a fair try. I found Green Eggs and Ham at a library sale a few months ago, and that is my favorite. My son, of course, waits for the train pages. In fact, he turns ahead, anticipating the train. As I reread it, I get used to the rhythm. I don’t dislike so much.
We also tried The Cat in the Hat and the sequel, and my son likes those very much. When we got to the part where the cat in the hat is showing off (holding a number of items including two books and hopping up and down), I asked my son if he could do that and from then on, every time we read the book, my son had to demonstrate his hopping abilities, while holding the books. Wow. What a talented boy! And while I’m not looking forward to reading Oh Say Can You Say? out loud again, my son sure enjoyed listening to it and the few times we read it, he always giggled when I stumbled over the tongue twisters.
Corduroy by Don Freeman is also a new favorite, thanks to the Scholastic movie. We watched the movie (which is a life-action stuffed animal movie) and suddenly this is the coolest book: “Mommy, watched!” my son says when he sees the book, and he promptly wants to read it. Whenever Corduroy starts walking in the book, my son says, “Look, Mommy! Walking!”
Same with the Caillou books, but those don’t really grab me: they are written like the television show they are based on, and the dialogue is awkward in print. My son loves the show, and I do think that reading a book about Caillou and his daddy is probably better than watching yet more television. This is one of those examples where I’m glad he has a book he enjoys, but I don’t particularly like reading it. (It’s up there with the Thomas books: pure fun for Son, dull city for Mommy.)
We found a number of new “favorite” books that Mommy wouldn’t mind owning so we could read them more often. Margaret Wise Brown’s Two Little Trains was one rather pleasant train book. Terrific Trains by Tony Mitton is also one that we both enjoyed. Both have pleasant rhymes that make reading it enjoyable, and both have attractive illustrations. The first book is about a real train and a little wooden train, and they go through parallel adventures. The second has three animals riding trains: the best part is we learn something about trains from the rhyme.
And then there are the two books my son and everyone else in the world loves that I can’t stand reading. First is No, David! by David Shannon. Now, don’t misunderstand me: the illustrations are lovely! I love how Shannon has captured the crayon-and-marker world of a five-year-old with gorgeous illustrations. I could look at the illustrations all day. My son loves it, too, but not just for the illustrations: I suspect he relates to the mommy always saying no (*guilt*). He says “uh oh!” when the carpet gets dirty, and when the boy runs out of the house he says “Mommy! Clothes!”. At the end of the book, he always looks for me to give him a hug, for of course, it ends with “Yes, David, I love you!” My son sits and “reads” it to himself. Because the words are mostly “No, David,” he’s actually pretty good at “reading” that one.
I just don’t like it. I don’t want my normally well behaved son getting ideas from the pictures, like the playing with his food and coloring on the walls. I suspect the “no” sinks in too, but I’m just not a fan of this one. We’ll check it out again, I’m sure. Just don’t get any ideas, Son!
The other book my son loves is Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems, which I’ve already mentioned. I still don’t like it, for similar reasons (giving him ideas of how to have a temper tantrum). And I seriously believe my son is the ONLY KID ALIVE who always tells the pigeon yes. Every single page of this book, he says, “Yes” to the pigeon’s requests to drive the bus. The day before it was due at the library, I did a little coaching. “Can you say ‘no?’ Good. Now when the pigeon asks, say ‘no.’” And he still said yes a few times. He just really wants to let that pigeon drive the bus. It drives me crazy, because the book doesn’t make sense if you say “yes”!
New Vocabulary and Concepts
One of the suggestions in The ABCs of Literacy was to seek out good nonfiction. To my surprise, my son really enjoyed the nonfiction we read together! I was even amazed at how long he stayed sitting. Some of the books had a lot of text and he wanted to hear it (at least the first time). The best find was Gail Gibbons. Dollins mentioned Gail Gibbons in her book and I’m a convert! Some of the books are a bit dated but I still really enjoyed learning about cars and libraries and gas stations and …. well, we’re still looking for more. See the full book list for other books we’ve been reading.
And then I was surprised by how quickly my son learned words by reading nonfiction. We read I Drive a Snowplow by Sarah Bridges and that night he was noticing snowplows on the road. “Look, Mommy! Snowplow!” It makes me think that reading about other things will help him learn those words too. I’ve been trying to find a book of opposites each time we go to the library, and he’s starting to get a little better and understanding the concept. He loves “awake” and “asleep”! They are fun to act out.
I’m trying other books: books with pictures of children about feelings and bodies, and Sesame Street books about eating healthfully and toilet training. But the thing that stood out to me was that thinking in terms of nonfiction helps me help my son connect concepts.
For example, we’ve read The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats many times, and we both enjoy it. He’s gotten to the point that when he sees the little boy put the snowball in his pocket, he says “All gone! Mommy! Snow all gone!” Today, it started snowing and he noticed the snow on my hair and coat and exclaimed over it. I asked him if I could put it in a ball and put it in my pocket to take home for later and he thought I was being silly. “No!” he said, without hesitation.
Maybe I’m silly to think that a significant moment. For me it was a lesson that learning from fiction and nonfiction is for mommies too: I need to think in terms of what my son knows, and I need to introduce him to good books — including nonfiction — so he can continue to learn about the world around him.
In case you are wondering, yes! My son talks in exclamation points all day long.
I have some of my favorites as well, but they will have to wait for the next post, as this is getting long.
Does/Did your child tell the pigeon no?
What are you reading with you kids this week?