During our last two trips to the library, I have been asked "How old is she?" by another parent (both times a father), who was observing the girls reading aloud. The first time it happened, it was Elise reading. Today it was Abby. On each occasion, said-father overheard one of the girls reading, leaned in closer to see the words on the page, and then mouthed "WOW" as he realized that the words on the page did indeed match the words coming from this little person's mouth. This morning, the dad wanted to know if I had used a special program to teach the girls how to read. To which I replied: "Nope". In all actuality, we did use a special program.
We implemented a program in our house that was based on our priorities and beliefs as parents, a program that is backed by research, and a program that fosters reading. I typically have 30ish books checked out from the library at a time - and we return/replace this supply almost weekly. Even if it's only every other week, that is 26 weeks in a year. I've been taking the girls to the library religiously since they were about 8 months old. The girls are 4 1/2, so let's say that this has been our routine for at least 3 1/2 of their 4 1/2 years. That's roughly 91 weeks (remember, this is based on every other week, which is a low-estimate since we frequently go weekly). That is roughly 2730 books. If each of those books gets read twice - one reading per child (really? have we ever read a book only twice?) - that is 5460 readings. The girls are only approximately 1640 days old. Are you with me? WE READ A TON OF BOOKS. And what has happened is that Abby and Elise LOVE books. They look forward to books. They are excited by new books. They are curious and interested and desire to know what each page says, how each story will end. They find comfort in books. All. day. long. Yes, we play. A LOT. We dance, we sing, we swing, we cook, we draw, we write, we do puzzles and games. There is so much more to life than books. But books are building blocks of our "special program".
Wake up early? Read books.
Waiting for breakfast? Read a book.
Momma needs to shower? Snuggle in my bed with a stack of books.
Long car ride? Pack some books.
Rest time instead of naptime? Not a problem with books.
Feeling sick? Tired? Cranky? Everything is okay with a book and a lap.
Notice what else is missing from the equation? Screen time. That's all I'll say about that one.