Today, I am writing a very gadgety post to the online community of our world about buying paper books and how to choose books that respond to the natural developmental needs of your child. It will be full of pictures and hyperlinks and links…I’m not sure which. But you will surely be able to click on a couple of words and be brought to another website. This week, Children Working started a twitter account and we learned to hash-tag!- which is # and a word behind it, so that when people search for a topic and the topic is the same as your word, they find your post!
I love reading. I love reading so much, I even read 50 Shades of Grey, you know, to be on top of book trends. I didn’t like it. I read 30% (I don’t know how many pages that is on a kindle) and then 10% more because I paid for it. But there’s a great deal of press surrounding it and our society has a very nervous response to it. Are you familiar with gothic novel motifs and literature about the subconscious? I had an exciting teacher for that. Everything was about labyrinths and phallic symbols and impaling something. The mad woman in the attic versus the angel in the house. Literature moves us all.
We all start by being shown how to read and a few might even have figured it out themselves. And with experience, we begin to make our own choices on what to read. But before that, everything rather depends on your adult. So adults, what experiences and choices of reading are you offering your child today?
Montessori has a rather unconventional recommendation about choices of stories for young children. She encourages fairytales and similar themes, for children who are older, maybe 6 years old, mas o menos? That these fantastical tales be reserved for children who have had experience of what is real. And for children who are younger to continue to build on their great store of real life experiences.
As a classroom practitioner, it takes a bit of effort.- finding enough books to rotate, books that are culturally and temporally relevant, the list goes on. That is not to say, I have never read a story about flying pigs and other fantastical creatures to children under 6 years. But like a healthy diet and good exercise, I keep on trying. It gets easier and more enjoyable, so that one day you will see that book with a unicorn on the front, and think, ‘How can they think this is alright for my 2 year old who hasn’t seen a real horse?’ So here are 3 reasons why you should choose a factual or non-fantastical fiction for your under-6 child.
(A book by Kathryn Cave and Oxfam)
Real books, such as the above, used to be very boring TO ME! But do you know, that your child is as interested in ‘D is for desert, too dry and dusty for most plants to grow,’ and see a picture of real donkey, as he would be a story about a magic donkey and was found by a little girl who wanted a pet but couldn’t have one. There is so much more conversation to be had surrounding real experiences and a great probability you might have a relevant story to share with your child.
Play therapists, for example, talk about how important it is for children to be allowed opportunities to play out scenarios based on things they are experiencing for real, in order to understand them. The same opportunities can be provided in books.
(A book by Mary Newell DePalma) Changes in seasons are particular intriguing to young children, and books about natural changes can be very poetic and well-written with words that you are happy for your child to repeat.
There ARE LOTS of books which tell stories of realistic events and situations, and which are really fun too!
Just a last thought:
Have you ever told your child a story, without a book? In honour of humanity’s grand old oral tradition? If you are one for telling an oral story, try telling a real one to your child today. The most recent real story I told children was: ‘Why I had on different slippers’- the reason being people started complaining that it smelled! A true and hilarious story, not for me, but for the children.