Bedtime routines are highly encouraged with babies and toddlers. Being the vociferous reader that I am I knew, from my extensive reading on the subject, that we needed to have bedtime routines so our children would sleep. I was well aware that my mom had struggled with putting me to sleep most of my life. We never really had a routine when I was growing up. This must have been the reason. Ahem.
So, part of our routine with the boys has always been reading. We read about three books a night to the boys, separately. Eli is still getting board books read to him, but Ben’s books have become increasingly long, even though they are still primarily picture books. A few weeks ago the Husband and I decided to give some short chapter books a try. We felt that Ben would be capable of following a story line over the course of several nights, and if he wasn’t quite there, it would still be good practice.
At the bookstore one day I sifted through some early chapter books. I looked for ones that had a good amount of illustrations in them. I gave the Husband three to choose from and he selected Dinosaurs at Dawn, which is the first book in The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborn.
We alternate putting the boys to bed every night. One night I will read to Ben, and the next I read to Eli. We started reading one chapter a night to Ben in place of one of the other picture books we would normally read. The next night Ben has to recall and summarize what happened the night before for the parent who is reading. He has been doing pretty well. Sometimes when he is really tired he doesn’t want to do it, but when he tries he does great. We also flip back and use some of the pictures if he is struggling.
We are now on the third Magic Tree House book. He really looks forward to these chapters. I think he feels like a big boy reading a chapter book at night. We like that the chapters are a lot shorter than a lot of the picture books he chooses. It is also nice to have a continuous story, something different from all the others we’ve read ten-thousand times. It’s been a good way of keeping parents and child happy with a bedtime routine that had started to become a bit tiresome.