Recharging with Picture Books

Mum reading with daughter
Category: Bookbug

There are lots of reasons why I read to my toddler. I love sharing my love of picture books with him, talking to him about new things, and bringing books to life with sound effects and silly voices. I love that he loves books, and even when he doesn’t want to read them, he wants to look at them and point to the pictures. But sometimes, what I love most about sharing a book with him, is the time we spend sitting still.

When I get home from work, playing and spending time with my child is my top priority. He meets me at the door, grabs my hand, and leads me off to his toys. It’s clear that he has a definitive plan in mind and that he’s excited to see me so we can play together. I love joining him on the floor and building blocks, racing cars, doing jigsaws, whatever he has in mind. But after a while, as much as I still want to play with him, I start to get tired. I can only eat so many imaginary bowls of soup, make so many animal noises, and build so many towers before the fatigue sets in.

Sometimes, what I love most about sharing a book with my son, is the time we spend sitting still

Sometimes I find the mental demands of imaginative play just as strenuous as the physical demands. While Gavin plays happily, I attempt meaningful commentary and questions to help further his language and understanding. I think carefully: we just made soup, what can we make next? What can I tell him about the blocks? I don’t know a lot about farm animals, so after we’ve practised the noises and described the appearance of the animals and what they eat, what happens next? He continues to play happily, but when I feel I’ve run out of things to tell him about, or scenarios to share, I deflect his attention – to a book.

A book is a great distraction. We can curl up on the couch and cuddle in, so we still get quality time engaged with each other. As the parent, I find it lets me relax a bit. Instead of struggling for things to talk about, we can read the story, look for things on the page and chat about what's happening. If we’ve been busy playing with cars, I try to grab a book that features vehicles so I can relate it to our play. Or the next time we play, I can relate it to the book. This doesn’t always work, but it can help.

When we’ve exhausted a book, I ask him to choose another book. We take a break from playing and recharge with a story. And when we’re both feeling rested, we go back to the toy kitchen and make another bowl of imaginary soup.