Tuesday Night Book Club

Tuesday Night Book Club

Although Claire enjoys snuggling together for a bedtime story, she also likes to mix it up sometimes.  She likes to add an element of pretend drama to story time.

Her latest idea along these lines is Tuesday Night Book Club. ¬†Instead of reading a book in bed together, we pretend it is story time at Austin Public Library. ¬†I sit in a chair and read a story (currently¬†Henry and Beezus¬†by Beverly Cleary) while Claire sits on the floor and listens. ¬†She becomes a girl named Sally who was dropped off at the library for story time. ¬†Actually, Claire calls it “book club” since that sounds more grown up. ¬†I act the part of the story reader and say stuff like, “Thanks for coming out to the book club tonight, kids,” at the beginning and “Looks like your parents are here to pick you up” at the end. ¬†Claire encourages me to ask questions about the book. ¬†For example, “Why does Henry not want Scooter to know that Ribsy picked up all the newspapers on Klickitat Street?” ¬†Then¬†Sally (Claire) raises her hand to answer the question. ¬†Claire uses her official public / school voice while answering the question. “Um, he doesn’t want to lose the paper route while Scooter is on summer vacation. ¬†He want to earn a dollar for his bike fund.” ¬†Claire asks that I put a blanket over my lap to make it more sleepy. ¬†Then the “parents” come for pickup, and it’s off to bed. ¬†It really does put a fresh new twist on bedtime stories.

Molly Reads a Word

Molly Reads a Word

While driving Molly and Claire home from school this afternoon, Molly was looking at a picture book, as she often likes to do. ¬†She tends to sort of babble about the pictures while she reads, and we don’t always listen very carefully to her. ¬†About five minutes into examining the book today, though, Molly said, “That word is ‘Luke'”. ¬†At a stop light, I asked her to show me the word, and sure enough, she pointed right at the word “Luke” in the story.

So that is officially the first word that Molly has read (that I know of) besides her own name. ¬†Molly must have recognized the word from a friend’s name, but still… preschool literacy is working for Molly!

Video

Bedtime Helper

Last night at bedtime, Molly asked if Claire could give Molly her bath and get her ready for bed. ¬†So we went downstairs and asked Claire, who immediately said yes. ¬†Claire took care of Molly’s entire bedtime routine, including bath, getting dressed in pajamas, brushing teeth, reading a story, and getting tucked into bed. ¬†The only help she needed was a little bit of guidance on shampooing Molly’s hair, which does tend to be dicey at time.

Here is a video of story time. ¬†(It’s chopped in the middle to keep it shorter.)

Favorite Books #4

Favorite Books #4

Here is the latest update in the ongoing favorite books series…

The Cat in the Hat
The Cat in the Hat

Molly has been enjoying the classics.  She went through a big Cat in the Hat phase.  This one is really fun to read if you add the full dramatic flair, with silly voices and dramatic pauses.  It also takes a long time to read if you do it right, so we often have to skip over the “middle bit”, i.e. the middle 1/3 of the book, since this book tends to get Molly late to bed.

Harry the Dirty Dog
Harry the Dirty Dog

Molly has also been enjoying Harry the Dirty Dog.  She likes this one in particular because the book itself was Kit’s when she was a little girl.  When Kit first told Molly that the book had been hers when she was small, Molly got a really surprised look on her face, sort of a “Holy s**t!” look, as Kit tells me.  Molly may have been taken aback that Kit was ever a little girl.  We have another, newer copy of this book too, and Molly insists that one was my book when I was little.  This is actually not true, and I have told Molly that it was not my book, but Molly shrugs this news off.  It was my book according to her view of the world.

Kit normally reads Molly her bedtime story, so she might have more to add.  Molly also been enjoying Ladybug Girl at the Beach, which was actually a gift to Claire from her aunt Betsy.  Claire read it once or twice and moved on, but Molly really loves this story about a girl playing around at the beach with her dog and family and conquering her fear of the water.


Claire has been mostly checking out non-fiction animal books from the school library.  We covered lions for a while, thanks to the movie The Lion King, which made lions look cute and fun.  But Claire has turned away from lions a bit lately after realizing that they are really more ferocious and dangerous than cute.  “I don’t like lions any more.  They’re mean and gross.”, I think she said.  This realization came after she saw a picture of a lion holding a dead, limp animal in its bloody mouth.  Claire has since then been focusing on dolphins, which really are cute and sweet.  They save people’s lives and fight sharks, which really is cool.

We also try to get Claire to read her own lithe books that she takes home from school as reading assignments.  Claire is usually too tired to read on her own, though, and just can’t seem to focus at the late hour right before bed.  So we are trying to find another time for her to read to us, but it is tough to find the time on a weekday.

Recently, Claire has come up with a new idea for bedtime stories.  Instead of a story, she said the other night, “why don’t we just cuddle and talk for a while?”  Sure, why not?  The whole idea is just to help her relax and top off the day before going to bed.  The first night she said, “What should we talk about?  Moats?”  We had been talking about moats, her idea, for a few days.  We had mostly exhausted the topic, but we quickly reviewed our knowledge of moats, and then went on to Q&A.  We covered each other’s favorite colors and a couple of other basics.  Among other things, we covered Claire’s latest career plans.

Besides Q&A, Claire decided that we should make up stories to tell each other.  Each night she would make up a story such as “Elizabeth and the magic sock” or “Lilly and the magic jellybean”.  These stories are cute but tend to ramble on and go in circles for quite a while, either because she cannot figure out how to end the story or because she is trying to put off bedtime, or probably a little bit of both.  (Claire is also writing and illustrating a book called “Candy Land”, or “Kandi Land” as she has written it with her growing writing skills.)  After Claire’s story, Kit or I have to make up a story.  Mine usually end up with pirates on a ship, or talking food, for some reason.  And mine tend to ramble on too because it’s actually really hard to find a good conclusion to a story that you’re just making up on the spot.  Really hard.  I kind of want to go back to reading someone else’s stories!

Favorite Books #3

Favorite Books #3

Here is the latest installment of the favorite books series…

Molly loves her Elmo sticker book. ¬†For a while, she refused to go anywhere without it. ¬†“I want my Elmo book”, was commonly heard, especially just before leaving the house. ¬†She would sit and study it in the car for long spells, such as the recent trip to Houston.

Elmo Book
The Elmo book
Molly Elmo Book
Molly engrossed in her Elmo book

Molly also spent quite a while absorbed in an issue of Austin Family magazine, which we happened to bring home from some restaurant or the like.  She would love to look over the pages for bedtime, labeling all the things in its pages, a mommy, some vegetables, a ball, swimming.  She really loved this magazine!

Austin Family magazine

At the moment, Molly’s favorite book is definitely the classic of classics,¬†The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. ¬†This is Kit’s and my favorite too. ¬†It is lots of fun to read, really an amazing book. ¬†This “Dr. Seuss” guy has a lot of promise! ¬†The Cat in the Hat¬† book takes a while to read, though, especially if you take the time necessary to read it in a fully fun and dramatic way. ¬†So we usually skip the¬†middle just to get Molly to bed in time!

Claire has been enjoying a variety of books, although no specific book has risen as the unchallenged leader  lately.  She has been somewhat into nonfiction, often inspired by a movie.  She has checked out school library nonfiction books on dolphins (thanks to the movie A Dolphin Tale), lions (thanks to The Lion King), and even a resurgence in books on ancient Egypt (thanks to A Night at the Museum 2).  The lion book was from National Geographic and was sufficiently realistic to be quite gruesome (but still fascinating).  Claire does not like lions as much since reading that book!  Dolphins are still sweet and cute, though.

    

Most importantly, Claire has also been reading to us more than ever! ¬†She brings home a folder of beginner books from school and takes great pride in reading them to us at bedtime. ¬†She is now reading more complex books with real stories, and not just the sample, repetitive books she started out with. ¬†She is pretty confident with her reading skills and keeps plugging away at tough words and sentences until she figures them out. ¬†And this late in her day when she is most tired. ¬†We’re so proud of her for sticking with it!

Claire’s Turn to Read

Claire’s Turn to Read

It’s time one again to see what Claire and Molly are reading these days…

And when I saw “what Claire is reading”, I really mean it.  She is reading to us some every night.  She is bringing home a different I-can-read type of book from school every week and reads to us each night before we read a book to her.  These learning books cover topics such as “Play Dough”, and are repetitive, featuring a similar sentence on each page, as in:

    I can make a pancake with my play dough.
    I can make a hamburger with my play dough.
    etc.

These are not page-turners, but still, it is very exciting to see Claire read.  She mostly has these books memorized, but she does have a new-found reading confidence and does also like to attempt unknown books, slowly sounding out the words and figuring them out on her own more often than not.  She seems to enjoy the challenge but wears out pretty quickly, after only a few words.  Reading is tough work when it’s a new skill!

Claire likes to occasionally being up additional reading and phonics topics such as “the silent E” and “people who’s names also start with C”.

Sausage King of Chicago

Sausage King of Chicago

Molly has been especially interested in letters lately.  Sometimes she will see a letter and actually say the letter, or least say a letter.  She might see an R and say “R”, or she might say “A” instead, but she definitely gets the idea that these letter shapes are significant and have names.

It is sort of a special thing for Molly to say a letter, not an every day occurrence.  But there is one very special prop which has Molly saying letters every time.  It is my Abe Froman, the Sausage King of Chicago, shirt.  Almost every time I am holding Molly while wearing this shirt, she loves to point at the letters and try to guess what they are.  She often gets the A, B, and O right.  Sometimes she points to the crown after the E, and I just have to say “crown”, which she now thinks is a letter.

If you’re wondering who the heck Abe Froman is, this clip from Ferris Beuller’s Day Off should clear it up for you.

By the way, this shirt has another magical power.  It starts conversations with strangers, many of whom instantly recognize it from the movie.  This shirt, acting on it own, even got me a free fountain drink at Rudy’s BBQ.  Another ten of those, and this shirt will have paid for itself!

Readin’ and Talkin’

Readin’ and Talkin’

The kid and the baby, aka Claire and Molly, each demonstrated some significant progress today in their respective fields of reading and talking.

This morning, Claire had written out the random letters O-L-A-J-A on a piece of paper and decided to try to sound out the word. She had been learning letter sounds at school for the past several months and was feeling pretty comfortable with the letters now. She slowly and deliberately read it out: “Oooh la jah.” It was amazing to see her really read something. And this was definitely not a case where she just recognized a word from memory, like her own name. (Granted, she might have been referring to the small Spanish village of Santa Olaja de la Accion, but I am going to stick with the random letters theory.) I decided to go with the momentum and write out my name: P-A-T. She slowly read it out: “Paaat. That’s your name!” Definitely not a fluke.

Molly was impressed with Claire’s reading but did not want to be overshadowed, so she showed off a bit of her own hard earned new skill while getting ready for bed that night. Kit and I were chatting while putting Molly into her pajamas when Kit used the phrase “thank you” in the middle of a sentence. A few seconds later, Molly clearly said, or tried to say, “thank you” three times in a row. It sounded kind of like “tank wa, tank wa, tank wa”. We cheered and gave her a big hug. Molly beamed, and then started saying “Daddy” over and over. That is a pretty easy go-to word for her, along with her favorite “uh oh”. Molly tried to say “Mommy” but is still having trouble with that darn “mmm” sound, but she definitely tried. Molly also has trouble with the “nnn” sound as well and has not yet learned to say “no”, but I am sure that will be a future favorite.