This evening, before we brought Isabelle upstairs for her bedtime rituals, I offered to read her three books downstairs. The first one, The City ABC Book by Zoran Milich, is one she loves to flip through on her own. There isn’t any text (just INCREDIBLE B&W illustrations with red “highlights” over where the letter appears in each photograph) in this book so I showed her how I traced my finger over the letter for her.
Next, since she was holding a copy of In the Garden by Leslie Bockol and Jillian Phillips, in her other hand, I read book second. While reading, I asked her to point to the boy on each page. This alluded her at first. (Instead, she touched a corn stalk.) Not understanding why she did that, I asked her to point to the boy on the next page. Again she touched something that wasn’t human. What was going on? I was about to panic when I realized that I don’t usually say “boy” or “girl” when I read the books. Instead I ask her to touch the “baby” or the “person.” The word “boy” was a new command (if you will). Therefore, I showed her who the boy was on the page. I said, “Boy is another name for person. Can you touch the person on this page?” She did. (Whew!) Of course, the next page there was a girl. I said, “Isabelle, you’re a girl. Can you point to the girl, who is a person, on this page?” Yet again, she touched the person. This made me realize that when I ask her to point to something in the book, I have to be sure that she knows who or what she’s pointing too. I cannot expect her to infer. I need to be explicit!
Finally, I asked Isabelle to pick out a book from the smattering of books that were strewn across the floor on the other side of our great room. “Pick out a book and bring it back.” Nothing. “Isabelle, would you please get a book and bring it back to me? I will read it to you.” Still nothing. Uh-oh, I thought. I repeated myself, “Isabelle, would you please get a book and bring it back to me? I will read it to you.” With the third repetition, she bolted across the room on all fours and retrieved a book, Peas on Earth by Todd H. Doodler, which she loves to flip through independently (probably because of all of the adorable illustrations.) I didn’t have to ask Isabelle to bring it back to me. Instead, she put the book in her hands and scooted back across the room on her tushe, book in hands, with a big smile on her face. “Thank you,” I said once she handed it to me. She smiled. “Would you like to come and sit in Mommy’s lap while I read it?” I didn’t have to ask this question more than once. She climbed right on to my lap for the book. Awww!