January 16, 2014

One Thousand Books, Grandma?

By Marcia Kaiser

Winnie is approaching her sixth month and already she has favorite books. Though she can’t articulate her criteria, it’s easy to see how the colors and texture and repetitive phrases delight her. Her family is careful to select books that respect her intelligence, her sensibilities, and her growing attention span. But if the books just decorate her shelves she’ll never reach the 1,000 mark.

What is the 1,000 mark? According to Mem Fox, children’s author and early literacy advocate, children should be read to many times in the course of a day. “,,,read at least three stories a day; it may be the same story three times. Children need to hear a thousand stories before they can begin to learn to read. Or the same story a thousand times.” Whew!

Enter grandparents. What a pleasure to help with this challenge! Sitting with our grandbabies on our laps, watching their fingers help turn the pages, we can read to our hearts’ content. The softness of our voices, our intonation, our delight in certain words, our interpretation of what we see, all wrapped up with loving arms equates the reading experience with softness, delight, and love.

For me, all those years ago, it was Nurse Nancy and Doctor Squash The Doll Doctor and The Pokey Little Puppy and more. Mem Fox wasn’t writing books yet when my mother first read to me, but I’m sure we hit 1,000 hours early on.

So, it’s Goodnight Moon and Alpha Blocks and, yes, The Pokey Little Puppy with Winnie. Books and my granddaughter in my arms. Pinch me.

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Marcia Kaiser

About Marcia Kaiser

Marcia Kaiser was raised on the north shore of Long Island, New York, where she and her family lived for her first nine years in an apartment above her grandparents’ stores. Her grandmother was always a part of her family. Marcia received her degree in education from Boston University in 1971 and her Masters Degree in education from C.W. Post College in 1975. She has been an elementary school teacher for over thirty years and is currently a library teacher in a public school in New Jersey.