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Literacy Milestone: Listening to Chapter Books

LiteracyMilestoneABaby Bookworm passed a new milestone on her path to literacy this week. It all started with some Little House in the Big Woods paper dolls that my sister sent to us. Although we had had them for a while, we opened them up for the first time this week. My daughter was utterly charmed by Laura, Mary, and Baby Carrie (and by Ma and Pa, to a lesser extent).

As we were playing, I casually mentioned that there were books about Laura's family. Baby Bookworm immediately wanted to see. So I pulled my Little House collection from the shelf, and showed her Little House in the Big Woods

She demanded "Read it!". So we sat there in the playroom, on a tiny chair next to her art table, and I read the first few pages aloud. I didn't expect my three-year-old's attention span to last long, and it didn't. There are pictures only every couple of pages in these books, black and white at that. And the initial section does a lot of describing of hunting and guns, things with which she is not very familiar. We read perhaps four or five pages, and then she was ready to go back to playing with the paper dolls.

But she refused to let me put the book away. She carefully marked our place with a bookmark. Since then, she's asked me to read from Little House in the Big Woods several times. I've also seen her flipping through it on her own, "reading" her own version of the story to herself (somehow her friends from the neighborhood have made it into that version). She most especially likes to look at the cover of the book. I'll hear her quietly identifying all of Laura's family members, pointing to each one.

The Little House books are the first books that I can remember devouring as a child. I have a clear memory of sitting on the windowsill in my third grade classroom reading them to myself. My own childhood set of the books was lost along the way. But after my daughter was born, I bought a new set of paperbacks (with, of course, the Garth Williams illustrations). I knew that we would get to them eventually. I can't say that I really expected it to be so soon. And I'm well aware that her interest may wane long before we get through even the first book. Still, I feel like I'm coming full circle, reading one of my first-loved childhood chapter books to my daughter. A very happy milestone for me.

What were the first chapter books you all read with your children? I did read some others to my daughter when she was a baby (starting with The Secret Garden). But this is the first that she has participated in and (to whatever level) understood. What were early successes in your families?

This post © 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.