"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

It's a wrap. The "100 Books Every Child Should Hear Before Kindergarten" reading project is complete.

We've done it!

My grandson, Ian, a soon-to-be-a-kindergartner, and I have completed our project to read/hear 100 children's books from a list provided by our library system. And we did it in two months. Amazing.

How did we do it?

Ian, wearing his goggles, and Jamie, still in pajamas, are enjoying a minute with me reading a book which includes a repetitive line: "Baby, Baby, please, Baby, Baby." Afterwards Jamie, who is ready for a talking explosion, walked around repeating the lines, "Baby, baby, baby."

First, I used my list to order books from the library in batches of 10-15. Every time we were together we would make time to read as many of them as we could. After we read each book a decision was made to return the book to the library immediately or to put it in the pile for Ian to take home so his parents could reread the book with him. That pile was kept to under five books for organizational reasons.

Reading with Grandpa, or at least sitting close as Jamie is doing here. Often we have to wait a minute while Ian located his blanket so he could suck his thumb. He is such a busy boy but will settle right down for a book.

Reading several books before bed is a perfect way to settle down and prepare for sleep. Here Ian and his parents share a sweet moment together after a long day.

Secondly, the library had lots of copies of most of the books so we didn't have to wait in line for very many of them. This made the speediness of the project possible.

Great-Grandma Shirley and Ian read the 100th book of the project together.

We also enlisted the help from any family member we could find. This culminated in this past weekend at a family reunion where every aunt and uncle and his great-grandma got to snuggle up with Ian for a story. Ian and Great-Grandma Shirley read the 100th book together making it extra special for both of them. Over the months, I read the lion's share of the books to Ian, often with his little brother hovering nearby. But everyone chipped in, making this a truly family project. Imagine all the love and acceptance Ian felt as he got to cuddle up close with so many relatives.

Ian, eating an apple slice, loves it when his great-aunts read to him. Aunt Grace is a preschool teacher and Aunt Kathy was a reading specialist for 40 years. They are both connoisseaurs of good children's books.

Great-Aunt Becky and Great-Uncle Tony are reading as a tag team. They just became grandparents themselves so they are getting in some practice reading to young ones they'll be able to put to use when baby Miles is old enough to enjoy books.

The list of books, which no doubt was compiled by some panel of librarians somewhere, was full of  characters who were multi-cultural and/or multi-capable, many of them using words in Spanish, Chinese, and other world languages. The characters often didn't fit into a mold, with kids on the autism spectrum, bi-racial, even sexual identity issues being represented. One book was about a kid who wasn't able to use his legs so he had to use a wheelchair and another book was about a girl who loved her mixed heritage and wondered why kids dressed up as pirates couldn't play soccer. Other books showed characters who had to learn from mistakes or demonstrated how to cook favorite foods from their cultures. The books that delighted Ian the most were the humorous titles like Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and No, David! He also seemed to enjoy those books which engaged the adults most. Where is the Green Sheep kept us both busy naming all the different types of sheep and wondering where the green sheep went.

Auntie Carly is being silly while reading Not a Box.

Another delightful favorite, Ian loved it when his dad read I Stink because he would make such funny voices.

Great-Aunt Grace know how to draw in her listener here.

Great-Aunt Kathy and Ian get to tell themselves a story as they decipher a wordless book together.

So what is the value from this project? I can't even begin to describe how special it is to snuggle up with a four-year-old and share a moment with books together, times 100. I'm sad it has come to an end. I know that Ian benefited and will continue to benefit from listening to these fabulous stories.  His brain is getting ready for school and all the learning to come. Now what will we do for the rest of the summer? Oh wait! Another nearby library has a different list called "100 Books Every Child Should Hear Before Starting School" and only 35 of the titles match the first list, you say? That sounds like another project in the making. 

Stay tuned for part two...


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