If your youngest kids are even a little bit like mine (pictured at left courtesy of VPL’s Instagram, though she’s currently a much bigger year-and-a-half), now that Ontario has officially been in a state of emergency for just over two weeks, you’ve probably read every picture book in your house a good 50 times each by now (or at least, it feels like it!) It’s… a lot, right?
It got to be too much for me in a about a week, and I’m a children’s librarian! I actively chose a career that revolves around sharing books with children, because I genuinely love to do so! I’ve been running storytimes in a professional capacity for several years now, but I seriously hadn’t ever realized how much energy is required to perform a read aloud until I ran out.
Rest assured, it happens to the best of us. And I’m here to offer you some silver linings (though, if you’re desperate, you can jump to the end for some helpful resources, too!).
For starters, it may help to know that all that repetition is actually good your little ones, on several fronts. It’s an important part of language learning, of course, but sharing stories with your little ones also builds a lot of other skills, including implicit pattern recognition, narrative structures, and (eventually) independent reading skills. Heck, the first book I ever read independently, I managed primarily because I had it memorized (or so I’m told! It was, of course, my favourite book at the time – an edition of Goldilocks and the Three Bears illustrated by John Patience (who was himself my mother’s favourite illustrator)).
Perhaps even more importantly, though, reading with your kids is a fabulous bonding activity – case in point, how deeply I bonded with a book my mother had bought for the illustrations, and perhaps even more poignantly, the fact that I just paused in writing this post for a good half hour to wander down Google’s memory lane of the many other Patience books I grew up reading and loving. No small part of that nostalgia is based on the fact that I know my mom loved his beautiful art as well.
And without me even really trying, I can already tell it’s happening again with me and my little one. Just a few weeks ago, she found Brendan Wenzel’s They All Saw a Cat on a shelf where I’d been saving it for when she was just a little older, and her dad reports to me that he was made to spend the better part of the next hour reading it to her over and over again (it’s really not a long book, for the record!)
And yes, you guessed it, Wenzel is one of my favourite children’s illustrators! They All Saw a Cat is not the first Wenzel she’s been exposed to, for the record. She’s seen several of his books (both those he wrote himself, and some he collaborated on with other authors), and when Hello, Hello was published in 2018, I brought it home as soon as it came into the library, and it became an immediate favourite.
All of this is to say, try to hold onto that bigger picture perspectice if you can, the next time you feel your eyes glazing over while reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? yet again.
But that’s not all I have to share! I also want to help you get a bit of the break you need and deserve. I’m really glad to be able to let you know that VPL’s got you covered on two fronts.
First, during the closure (and possibly beyond! stay tuned…) we are airing live virtual storytimes daily at 10:30AM on Instagram. Come see me and some of my colleagues getting silly (and supporting your kids’ developing literacy, of course) if you can!
Tumblebooks really is an incredible resource, providing you with ebooks and read alouds (that means someone else has done the reading aloud for you! You can relax and share in it with your kid, or take some very needed ‘me’ time. It’s up to you!) for kids of all ages.
I barely know where to start! You might want to check out their collection of classic Robert Munsch, including the Paper Bag Princess (which just celebrated its 30th anniversary this month), 50 Below Zero, Purple, Green and Yellow, and many more. Munsch is fun for the whole family!
Or you could let John Lithgow enthrall you all with his Marsupial Sue stories (audio by Lithgow himself – did you know he was a talented children’s storyteller? It’s one of my favourite celebrity facts!) Personally, I love The Runaway Pancake!
For older kids, Tumble Books even has crowd-pleasers like Geronimo Stilton, LEGO Ninjago, Nancy Drew, and more.
What are you waiting for? Check it out!