I am not a parent. However, I have spent several years as a youth services librarian. I adore picture books. I love author Mo Willems; especially his series Elephant & Piggie. As an enthusiastic reader and librarian, I take my roll as a literacy champion very seriously. I have a nephew and two nieces. I remember teaching two of them to read. As their summer baby-sitter I made sure that they took part in the summer reading program at our local library; who was also my employer. One summer, my nephew won a kid’s t-shirt of that summer’s theme. We both had the same summer reading t-shirt. It is still one of my favorite shirts to this day. I treasure that memory. I bought the two oldest copies of the newest Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney. They read them however as they have grown older they have broken my heart. They have both admitted that they hate reading. Knife through my bookish heart! So with my newest niece I am trying to sway her to be a reader. Here are some things I am doing!
Each birthday gift involves books. Some birthday parties have even ended in impromptu story times which have warmed my heart. In the picture above we are reading Are You Ready to Play Outside starring Gerald and Piggie. I knew that she would love talking about the characters being stuck in the rain. I was right. She did necessarily want the story to be read over but she LOVED talking about it. She loved telling her own version of what was happening on the page which is just as important. She began taking the book around to other family members to share the story.
Here she is sharing the joy of Elephant & Piggie with her great-grandmother. The simple gift of a book provided so many meaningful and unexpected memories. Never underestimate the joy that a children’s book can bring to people of all ages.
The gift of her first Elephant & Piggie would continue to create wonderful memories because nearly a year later she still loved the book. I got a call from her and learned that she had read the book to her mom that morning. I then got my very own story time via video chat. I captured a screen shot to save the memory.
For my niece’s third birthday I went with a complete book theme….shocker I know.
I decided the time was right to introduce her to Dr. Seuss. She is a vocal toddler and I could see her hollering out “I do not like green eggs and ham” or saying “that Sam I am”. I could not resist slipping in one of my favorite Elephant & Piggie book which was a Dr. Seuss award winner. After I had already purchased these items I learned that she loved the live action Cat in the Hat movie. While I find the movie creepy, I was still excited because she would know who the Cat in the Hat was! Which means she would love the t-shirt. She did!
I am pleased with the progress I am making even though there is some distance between us. I will continue to introduce her to the wonder of books and share them with her however I can. Luckily her big sister reads to her. Her mom encourages her to read out loud to others. She has a mama (a.k.a grandma) who makes sure to surround her with books as well. We are on the right track to having an enthusiastic reader on our hands!