When our twins were still just little flutters in my belly, I did what every first-time mom does, and began to make mental lists of all the things I wanted to do when they were on the outside. I promised myself I’d build them a huge library of books to read to them every day and every night from the day they came home from the hospital.
Then they were born, and I realized: I have twins. This is crazy hard. I tried to read to them and one would always topple over or wiggle away, and I had THE hardest time reading to them – not to mention they didn’t seem interested in books at all as newborns. I immediately thought of all of the articles I’d read, which basically stated that if I didn’t read to my kids, they’d grow up lacking any kind of ability to be successful at anything!
Cue mom guilt and anxiety.
I kept trying with the books, though not every day or even for more than about 2 minutes, which is about all they’d let us read for. Fast-forward to the boys being about a year old, and suddenly grabbing at books all on their own. Fast-forward further even, to now at 19 months, when they grab books and bring them to their dad and I, sit on our laps and place the book in our hand.
Despite my anxiety, my fears, and their original lack of interest in books, they’ve grown to love them. A LOT! And I’ve learned a few things along the way…
1. Board books, board books, board books.
Babies and toddlers (at least mine) cannot handle paper pages. They end up ripped and eaten. Yes, eaten. Board books get eaten too, of course. The corners get chewed, sometimes they even get ripped apart. But for the most part, they cost a bit less, and can handle the abuse a little better than their flimsy paper counterparts.
2. The library is your BFF
When trying to figure out what your kids will actually be interested in (ours don’t care much for cartoon animals, but real animal photos are a major yes), the library can be a great (and FREE) resource. I like to go by myself and save the stress of having two toddlers pulling every single book in the place off the shelves. Not sure where to start? The TD Summer Reading Club has a ton of book recommendations for kids of all ages. This year, to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, they’ve compiled a list of 75 English titles and 75 French titles that highlight Canadian authors and you can search for any of the recommended books in over 2,000 public libraries across Canada. It’s also free to join, and you can sign up anytime, so get to your public library like now! Ok, well wait until after you finish reading this post.
3. Build your own little library
This may sound scary and complicated, but I promise you it’s not. We used wooden spice racks to build little bookshelves for the boys in their room, and put down a small sheepskin rug and some pillows to make a cozy corner. Having a quiet place where they can just sit and explore their books is something we wanted to have for them from a very early age. They love this little space, and it was SO easy for us to put together. The bottom two racks are low enough that they can reach the books, and the books closest to the sofa are bedtime books, which we can easily reach for when we do our bedtime routine with them. At the top, out of reach of tiny hands, are the non-board books. We still read them to the boys, but don’t let them have free reign over them for the sake of keeping all of the pages intact.
4. Variety is the spice of life (right?)
Using the public library and the TD Summer Reading Club, we’ve discovered lots of different types of books. This means the boys can have access to books about bugs, traveling through Canada, or we can try out new bedtime stories so they’re not always getting the same ones over and over. BONUS TIP: Keep the library books on a separate shelf. We don’t keep these in their little library, but rather on a shelf or dresser where they can’t reach. I like to keep all of the library books together so I’m not scrambling to find them when it’s time to return them.
5. Take them with you…
…the kids AND the books! If you know you’ll be somewhere like a doctor’s office, a friend’s house, the car, the park, grandma and grandpa’s….literally anywhere other than home – take some books with you. They’re such a great way to take their attention away from something other than screaming or throwing a tantrum. Or is that just my kids? Small board books are the best for this so they can easily carry them in their little hands and flip the pages even if they’re in their car seats or a stroller.
Starting at a young age to expose them to the library, to different kinds of books, and to Canadian authors is something we really value. Books have the power to shape a person’s identity, and libraries are magical places where you can fall in love with a story.
If you’re a new mom and you’re wondering if your baby will ever like books, don’t worry. It’s coming. And if you’ve got kids who love books and you’re wondering how the heck to keep up with them, or how to find quality books for them to read, check out the TD Summer Reading Club which is completely free at your local public library or online!
And if you made it this far down the post, you can enter to win a set of 10 of the TD Summer Reading Club books! Just leave me a comment with what your kid’s favourite book is! Contest will close August 18, 2017, and is open to residents of Canada (except Quebec). Good luck!
Disclosure: I have partnered with YMC and TD Summer Reading Club and have received compensation for this post. All opinions in the post are my own.