From a slower start on the books-front, the 15 month-old (today) Scrip is now an avid ‘reader’. I say reader because she’s recently picking up a selection of books, plonking herself on the rug and flicking through them using her thumb, flickbook-style. Sometimes she decides to take it a little bit slower and turns the pages one-by-one, ‘reading’ out loud, pointing to any pictures and saying words and non-words. She seems happy entertaining herself this way but sometimes she likes to be where we are, so she’ll drag a small pile from sitting room to kitchen, find a suitable spot and read away, while we’re stacking the dishwasher.
At other times, particularly when she’s tired, she’ll bring books over for us to read, practically throw herself at one of us – which is her version of sitting on our laps – and plant her thumb (aka thumbo) into her mouth, which signals that she’s ready to listen.
When I was pregnant, in a rush of enthusiasm, I bought a book of beautifully illustrated fairy tales. Encouraged by my weekly baby updates from various sources (‘your baby can now hear sounds’, ‘your baby can now recognise your voice’), my husband and I read to the developing Scrip. A story a night for a while. And we were rewarded with the occasional kick or turn.
Having always been an avid reader myself with fond memories of bedtime stories, I was looking forward to following this by reading aloud to my new baby. In my idealised world, we’d be curled up on the sofa together, me narrating complete with funny voices, her delighted and her attention rapt.
Unfortunately, as with so many things, the reality hasn’t actually turned out that way. In the first few months I found nursery rhymes and songs were much more popular with the fledgling Scrip. Then, when she was ready to sit rather than slump in my lap, I tried again. But she was much more interested in grabbing the book than letting me read it. Each time I gently prised it from her paws and tried to carry on, unsuccessfully. This progressed to picking it up and chewing it. I tried cloth books, plastic books and board books. It wasn’t that I didn’t want her to play, I just wanted to introduce her to the joys of reading too.
A story didn’t sit naturally with our bedtime routine, either. I started worrying – what if she didn’t take to reading? What if she was more interested in moving around than sitting quietly and concentrating? It wasn’t an age thing – friends’ babies seemed to enjoy being read to so much more (‘books are Alfie’s favourite toys’)…