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When a two-year-old reads you a book…

When a two-year-old reads you a book, you are in for a treat.  Similar to playing a game with a 4-year-old, you never know what you are going to get.

1. It’s different every time. Those of us that can read feel restricted to saying just the words on the page.  This is not the case for a two-year-old.  Two-year-olds are bound only by their ability to form a complete sentence.  Sure the book might be about Goldilocks and the three little bears but if your two-year-old spots a flower on the page, the book is suddenly about a little flower.  Tomorrow it might be about the house that the three bears live in. You will never get the same story twice.

2. Don’t plan on going anywhere too soon.  When you sit down to have a two-year-old read a book, you might want to clear your calendar for the next 20 minutes.  Sure there might only be 5 pages to the book, but when a two-year-old insists on turning the pages herself, you might as well be reading War and Peace.  I imagine that the effort it takes for her little fingers to turn each page must be similar to the effort it would take me to tie my shoes wearing mittens.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a board book or real paper, turning pages is hard when you are two-years-old.

3. They really do listen to you. I live with two two-year-olds and there are days when I feel as if they have already mastered the skill of completely ignoring me.  I can ask them to hang up their coats five times before they even acknowledge that I’m talking.  That’s why I like to hear them read me a book. They will turn to a page and begin to say the words that they’ve heard me say over and over when I’ve read the same book to them.  My heart melts as I hear my daughter’s voice mimic the phrases she’s heard from me.

4. It’s a glimpse into their mind. Admittedly, our house is pretty crazy most of the time. With three preschoolers all trying to be heard at once, I’m pretty sure I only hear 50% of the words that are said by my children. This is not the case at story time. Usually it’s nap time or bed time and the chaos of the day has settled. Each child now has their moment to be heard while reading a book to me. When reading Dora books, my daughter likes to mention that she does not like Swiper. My son would like to ride in the animal train with the monkey. As a mother of twins, I often wonder if I lump the two of them together too often. Sometimes there is just no other way. Perhaps that’s why they like story time so much. It’s their turn to be heard.

As they get older, they will learn that there are words on the page that tell the story.  Slowly, they will begin to refrain from adding their thoughts and instead stick to the author’s version of the story. I’m sure it will be amazing to listen to them read and sound out big words that seem out of their reach, but I think I’ll always miss the way they told the story when they were two.