If there is one time of the day that I absolutely love, it is Story Time with Azmu. With her current age, I am not exactly reading Roald Dahl’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate factory’ to her (but it is certainly planned for in the near future). Right now, it is snuggling together with picture board books splashed with vibrant colours, decorated with touchy-feely sections, sometimes buttons for sounds; occasionally explored orally by chewing and drooling over, but always with a story that can be read over and over again. Thank goodness for their durability.
We have a section at home, where all of Azmu’s story books are kept and whenever she wants to read, she happily points at them and says, “Books” (well, kinda). We then sit with a whole collection of them and I give her the choice to select a book to start with.
Born to the IPad generation, it is very easy to just put her in front of an IPad with a playlist of nursery rhymes playing on repeat, while you get to complete some of the chores around the house. Yes, I admit, I have been guilty of doing that when I just *in a moaning voice* needed – some- space! However, it simply cannot replace the joy and benefits of reading books together.
A small research study published in JAMA Pediatrics, in Feb 2016, shows varied interactions between parent and their child (10 to 16 months of age) when playing with either electronic toys, traditional toys or books. It was found that when electronic toys were used to play, fewer conversations between the parent and child took place and fewer content-specific words were used. However, when compared this to traditional toys and books; the quality and quantity of language used was greater with books. Books showed high importance in promoting early language development.
I have certainly seem some benefits of spending this quality reading time together with Azmu and would like to mention them below:
- Interaction: There are so many times when I have to chase Azmu around the house, like when it is time to eat or time to change clothes, but when it comes to Story Time, it is the one occasion where I can sit in any corner of the house and I know she will come to me. When the books are out in front of us, Azmu instinctively knows that she has to get the ‘best seats in the house’ and that’s my lap! Reading books snuggled together has been our chance to build a strong mother-daughter attachment bond, and I hope it only gets stronger.
- Vocabulary: I have noticed that Azmu always seems to go for the books with big colourful pictures, whether they are of people, animals, objects, places or food items. She is curious about what the pictures are called and points at them to ask me what the picture is showing. She hears me speak new words and imitates the sound. I love hearing her words and watching her build up her bank of vocabulary. Living in UAE, Azmu has never seen a real snow man. (Nope, we haven’t been to Ski Dubai yet), however thanks to some of the Christmas themed books we have read, she can correctly identify what a snow man looks like.
- Spoken Language: Having Azmu hear me read has certainly helped her develop her spoken language skills. She can use words and phrases in her day to day language when speaking to family and friends (English and Gujrati, both being her native language)++-+. What started with Azmu saying just one word to convey a message, has turned to a three word sentence. It is so delightful watching her choose her words correctly to express herself. It has definitely helped me understand about her wants, needs, likes, dislikes and feelings.
- Excitement: There is nothing thrilling than watching Azmu get excited about a book, even if she has read that story a 1000 times (slight exaggeration). I am sure those little neurons in her brain must go into over drive when she plunges into the magical world of talking sea horses or hungry caterpillars.
My passion to mount a love for reading in Azmu, and connect with her books has stemmed with my own love for stories. Yes, I was that kid who would spend hours in a library, being lost in some fantasy world with my own imagination. And those are some of my best childhood memories. If there is one gift that I’d like to give to my daughter, it is the ability to imagine. Imagination to be anywhere and be anyone. Imagination to watch the frog hop across her board book or hear the ducks quack.
Oh yeah, and the other benefit of board books … making a book pyramid!