5 Ways to Read a Book

I've read a few books over the past few years. Everything from Margaret Wise Brown to Robert McCloskey. We’ve read classics from when I was a kid. We read books that friends recommend or that I heard about through a blog. We read books that my kids randomly pull off the shelf at the library and hand to me.

Along the way, I noticed a few patterns in the way we read the books. The patterns vary based on the age and interests of each child, but I’ve found five different stages so far:

1. Point at the animals

I know people recommend reading to babies. My kids weren’t interested in stories until they were over a year old. Even then, 'reading' meant pointing at something on the pages, not reading a story.

"Look! A duck! Look! Another duck! Quack, quack."

2. Read it over again

And again. And again. Need I explain?

I usually tell my kids we could only read a book once per day. That works most of the time.

3. Get bored; change the story.

Repetition can get a bit monotonous. Just a bit. 

So, I change the story. Too many ducks in the book? Maybe they can become alligators!
And, of course, when you change one detail, it’s bound to affect other details along the way.

4. Why?

Eventually, when you read the story enough times, the kids start to get curious and ask about certain details. (Make that all the details.) So, they ask, "Why?"  

In fact, they ask "Why?" after nearly every sentence. At the right age, you can turn a short, simple story into a high school chemistry class, if you want. “Why did the balloon float away when he let go? Well, let’s talk about density and atmosphere and the liquid and gaseous state of elements…”

This, however, makes it very hard to finish a story, unless you ignore a few of the "Why?" questions.

Also, Beatrix Potter stories can be very hard to explain.

5. Don't read the story.

Yes, there is a phase after the repetition and the whys. This is when they sneak off with the book to read it on their own. Someday, after all the stories you’ve read together, they’ll run off with Thomas the Tank Engine the minute you get home from the library…even though they don’t actually know how to read yet.

They’ll be back soon, though, asking you to read them another story, again.


“Because they can.”

What are the patterns you've noticed while reading children's books?