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5 Things That Happen When You Read To Your Toddler

Rachel Cordasco

Staff Writer

Rachel Cordasco has a Ph.D in literary studies and currently works as a developmental editor. When she's not at her day job or chasing three kids, she's writing reviews and translating Italian speculative fiction. She runs the website, and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

We’ve all heard stories like this. There’s the kid who won’t go to sleep until you read him his one and only favorite book for the 578th straight night. There’s the kid who knows her favorite book so well that if you dare to skip a word or insert something extra into the story, she calls you out on it.

So what kinds of things happen when you find yourself reading the same book night after night after night after night after night after night after night after night after night after night after night?

1. You start to like the book even if you also hate it. It’s kind of like you’re being brainwashed. The same words, the same story, the same characters- you just have to start enjoying them or you’ll go insane.

2. You start analyzing the story. You may not realize it at first, but to give your brain something to do, you start analyzing what you’re reading. As in, “wait, why did Cookie Monster ask his friends for cookies in that particular order? Is it in order of who he likes most? Or who he thinks will most likely give him cookies? And why is that cookie tree so stubborn? What do its magic properties have to do with its disposition?”


3. You eventually memorize the story. This is great, because then you can read it aloud while you simultaneously think about other things. For instance, you’re reading about the Cookie Monster, but you’re thinking about how you’re going to get all of your errands done the next day while also dropping off your kid(s) at school and brushing your hair so it doesn’t look like a rat’s nest. Now that’s multitasking for you.

4. Your kid(s) starts reciting the book along with you. And then it’s like when you’re counting something, and suddenly someone else starts saying random numbers, and then you’re all discombobulated. That’s because maybe your kid doesn’t know all of the words, and so while you’re trying to read, they are skipping ahead and then you get thrown off and then it’s like wait, which page are we on now?

5. Just when you’ve been thoroughly brainwashed with this book, your toddler decides that it’s time to move on. You’ve finally achieved zen and can read aloud and think about other things at the same time and then…your kid decides it’s time for a different book. It’s completely random. You’ve been reading the same book for 6,739 nights in a row, and now your toddler decides it’s time for something new. You think about protesting, but we all know where that’ll get you. So you acquiesce, pick a different book, and go through the process ALL OVER AGAIN.

It’s all worth it, though, because soon your kid will be reading on her own, and you’ll know that you gave her a good start by reading to her every night. Even if it’s the washing machine manual. Or an old take-out menu. Putting words into little brains is one of the most important things you can do for them. And when they put their sticky hands all over your novels and pretend to read them, you’ll want to burst with pride.


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