“Talk about the words!”

In this timely post, Julie Eastes, a friend and WY ECPLC collaborative partner, shares special memories of reading with her young son. She describes how book reading with young children supports not only literacy, but healthy social and emotional development. During these unsettling times, shared book reading offers an an important opportunity to connect and help children feel a sense of safety and belonging.

“Talk about the words!”

Reading has always brought me so much joy, I couldn’t wait to read aloud to my own child.  When my son was young, he loved to cuddle and listen to stories. He would toddle around carrying his blanket and a huge picture book saying, “Talk about the words!” Of course, we always made time to plop down in a comfy spot and read.  One of his favorite books was, So Much by Trish Cooke. He would melt into our laps blissfully listening, smiling and giggling. The sweet little baby in the story is the center of his big, loving family as they bounce and squeeze and play with him. The rhythm and familiarity of hearing his favorite book read aloud by his favorite people was a comforting and joy-filled experience for my son.  The family in the story does not look like us, they have a large extended family while ours is quite small.  What connected my family and the family in this story is incredible love we had for the babies in our lives!

As we look for ways to connect with children, especially when there is such dramatic change and disruption in many family’s lives, it is comforting to connect to the familiar. Familiar books and a loving, responsive family member or educator can provide a calm, joyful, predictable experience. Supporting literacy is certainly a benefit of reading aloud, but favorite books and stories can also support social emotional health.  As we strive to support and connect with young children, we have an obligation to ensure children know we value their families, culture, race and ethnicity. Books are one tool to help children understand both their uniqueness and the beautiful ways we are all connected

Here are some suggestions, old and new to add to your home or classroom library. So grab a book and “Talk about the words!” with a young child in your life.

I just Want to Say Good Night,

By Rachel Isadora (2017)

My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero

Illustrated by Zeke Pena (2019)

Happy in Our Skin

By Fran Manushkin

Illustrated by Lauren Tobia (2015)

Saturday

By Oge Mora (2019)

More, More, More Said the Baby

Vera B. Williams (1990)

So Much

By Trish Cooke

Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury (1994)

Here is a wonderful version:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8GhmczYen0

A new publication from NAEYC, Each & Every Child Teaching Preschool with an Equity Lens by Susan Friedman & Alissa Mwenelupembe, is a great resource for connecting with all children and families and advancing equity in the early childhood classroom. 

Julie Eastes is an educator with over 25 years of experience working to support children, families, and educators in early childhood education programs.  She is currently a consultant and living in Casper, Wyoming.

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