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Mommy School: Little House Learning & Chapter Book Read-Aloud Tips

I have waited years for this moment.  I’m talking since I was 8 or 9 years old.  That’s a long wait (hey, quit trying to figure out my age).

Ever since I picked up “Little House in the Big Woods” by Laura Ingalls Wilder and devoured all the Little House books, I KNEW I’d read them with my child one day.  I KNEW my mini-me would love them as much as I do.  How could something from my womb NOT love them?  Not possible.  Nothing to even worry about.

But I worried.  So when I was pregnant I set a fresh boxed set on Munchie’s closet shelves.  Unconscious assimilation.  Osmosis.  Very scientific.

When she was two she pulled them off the shelves and carelessly tossed them aside in one of her weekly closet raids.  Oh my gosh.

I removed them from her room and stored them in a box.  She’ll want what she doesn’t have, desire that which I’m not offering her.  Reverse psychology.  I’m brilliant.

Well, now Munchie is in her second year of preschool.  She did two 3-hour days last year and now does three 3-hour days.  I love her school and the little community it nurtures, but since she loves a schedule and requests “activities” I  supplement her learning at home.  She’s come to call this Mommy School and asks me for it daily.  A couple of weeks ago I pulled out “Little House in the Big Woods” and began Munchie’s first chapter read-aloud.  At 3-years old, she’s eager to read and though she isn’t there yet, I love to envelop her in books and stories, encourage her love of books and storytelling.  I crossed my fingers that she would enjoy it.

Did my super scientific ways pay off?

She loved it.  She raised her hand when she had a question, she compared & contrasted her life with Laura’s.  I’d planned to read ten pages, but she begged me to finish the chapter.

Dream.  Come.  True.

The best part?  I get to enjoy this gem all over again, right along with my girl.  It’s been several years since I’ve re-read the series and I loved taking it in with fresh mommy eyes.  I loved when I read about a bear trying to snatch the family’s pig and Munchie’s eyes widened in excitement and anticipation of the outcome.  I loved when she asked when we could read chapter 2 and would it be “tomorrow morning or the next tomorrow after that.”

I know it wasn’t my awesome mommy science that had her intrigued–full credit to Mrs. Wilder on that one.  🙂  But I’m still pleased that Munchie is so into this book.  She’s eager to begin complementary activities and is helping me create a list of things she’d like to do that Laura did.  Cool.

This is my first run teaching a 3-year old, but pulling from my teaching years with kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd graders, I thought I’d share a few simple tips when beginning chapter book read-alouds with your itty-bitties.

  • Keep their hands busy:  They may be young and awfully active, but that doesn’t mean young children can’t sit and listen to a chapter book.  One way to occupy their fidgety bodies is to offer simple activities like a puzzle or building blocks and Legos.  I set my daughter up with the new 100 piece Hello Kitty puzzle she’d been itching to get her hands on.  She was able to keep moving while enjoying the story.
  • Give it time: Just as I would alter my teaching based on my students’  needs, I do the same at home and adjust read-aloud time with my 3-year old daughter.  Although she wanted to hear the 1st chapter the first day, the next day she was exhausted and had a hard time focusing.  So I only read for ten minutes.  Do what works best for you, not what you’re told you’re supposed to do.
  • Be Interactive:  Although you might choose to implement a few simple rules for read-aloud sessions (such as raising your hand to ask a question) don’t feel the need for rigidity.  Your child will likely have questions and comments about the book.  That’s wonderful!  Be sure to pause to cover new vocabulary, compare and contrast, and share thoughts.  This is a wonderful learning opportunity so embrace the questions, comments, and participation.
  • Choose Wisely: Your friend may be reading her child a book that you don’t think your kiddo is ready for, but you worry that you’re holding your child back by not reading it to them NOW.  Although you don’t want to underestimate your child (little ones can understand and enjoy books beyond their “reading level”), don’t feel the need to choose based off what others are reading.  Choose something you think your child will enjoy, you’d enjoy (hey, you count!),  and that suits your child.
  • Silence the “Noise”: Turn your phone on silent (better yet, turn it on silent and place it AWAY from your reading area) & turn off the television.  Show your little one that your attention is with them and the book.
  • Pre-Teach:  I’ve always found it beneficial to do a little pre-teaching before I begin a chapter book and did this before I started Little House with Munchie, too.  I simply discuss who the book is about, the setting, the time/era.  You don’t have to go into great detail, but offering a bit of background is helpful especially when you’re flashing back into history.  This not only helps little ones get comfortable with the book’s plot and setting, but opens the door to wonderful discussions.

My biggest tip:  Have fun and enjoy this precious time with your kiddo!  The world of books and storytelling is fantastic and rewarding!  I hope you have a splendid time experiencing it together & building memories.

Are you currently enjoying a chapter book read-aloud in your home?  What are some of your family favorites?

Looking for some chapter book read-aloud titles to try out in your home?  I’ll be sharing some of my favorites soon so please do visit again!

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Comments

  1. This brings me great joy! We also love Wilder books. I also did The Little House in the Big Woods when Pea was 3. She also loved it! We are now on the 2nd book Farmer Boy which is about the life of her husband as a child. I can’t wait to hear more about your “Mommy School.” Sounds like you’d be a pro at homeschool…hemmmhemmm!!

    • hahaha! Well, it hasn’t been ruled out quite yet. 🙂 I think I’ll also just re-read the books this fall and winter myself at night…they’re so darn good…my favorite was always The Long Winter as a child because I was sooo intrigued when Laura got lost in the snowstorm and when they got to stay in bed and pa and ma would cover their bedding in snow to warm them! So exciting to me! 🙂 Here’s to more Mommy School fun! Cheers! 🙂

  2. Oh fercryingoutloud, you almost got me teary!! I adore those books as well, and can’t wait till A: my six year old decides they aren’t too girly, or B: I get a little girl to read them to 🙂 I’m starting a “Nibbles and Novels” literary inspiration link party on Oct. 1st, I’d love it if you linked up!!
    ~April

  3. Thanks for the great tips! I tried reading Laura to my girl when she was about 3. I too had visions of us cuddled together, reading all about Laura’s adventures together. Unfortunately, she just got bored with it and I ended up reading most of it by myself. In hindsight, I should have given her an activity to do at the same time, or limited our reading time.

  4. Great tips! My Roo loves the Magic Treehouse books and the Flat Stanley books. Not exactly high quality literature, but he’s into the adventure of them! I can’t wait until he is a little older and I can start in on some of my favorites – Harry Potter, Beverly Cleary’s books, and The Indian in the Cupboard. My problem will be I’m never going to want him to read any of my favorites on his own – I would miss out on reliving them! Haha!

    • I think Flat Stanley and Magic Treehouse are great read-alouds! When I taught, the kiddos LOVED those series. They were so vivid. Oh girl, I can’t wait to share Cleary and Rowling with my daughter, too. Maybe we should have a mommy-book club so we can read them with them and not feel left out. lol:)

  5. I read your post the other day and been meaning to write a comment. I love reading to my little guy. The past week we’ve been learning about the farm. So during his play time, I’ve been reading Charlottes Web to him. Usually durning his free play time, I’d have music on or his favorite Thomas the Train on but reading to him is really such a joy! It’s our first chapter book but he’s only 22 months so we are starting a little early or not?! 🙂

    • I say it’s never too early! I’ve been reading chapter books aloud to Munchie since she was a baby as she played, but this is the first time I’m having her “study” it with me and be an active listener, etc. I think your sweet boy will benefit from your reading even if it appears he’s not!

  6. I had the exact same thoughts growing up…I couldn’t wait to be able to read the Little House books to my own kids someday, yep, even as a little kid. I also started reading them to our kids, when they were 4 and 3. We read the first two books together. Then we had a brief hiatus, and this summer we went back to them again. They didn’t remember many of the details, so I’m back reading the same ones again, which is totally fine by me. Great tips!!

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