I started reading books with Juliet when she was really young--a tiny baby, in fact. Back then, it was more for ME than for her. Here I was at home with a baby all day..what was I supposed to do with her?!! I had no idea, so I just did what I knew how to do already--sit back, relax, and enjoy a good book. It worked out really well, and since I am such a routine person, I began to really depend on our book time rituals. They helped me structure my day and made me feel like I had a plan, like I was making progress through my day. (If you're a fellow mom who went from going to work every day for years to suddenly staying at home full time with your child, you know how that transition is kind of difficult at first.) After her morning feeding, we would read a few books together snuggled up in the big reading chair in her room. Later, after breakfast, we would read a few more downstairs on the couch. Then, before a nap, we would read some and again, after she woke up, we would snuggle together and read a book or two.
I had Ben read books to her after her nightly bottle and before bath time. This child was getting read to ALL the time! But, the funny thing is that she really enjoyed it. At first, I thought she just tolerated it, but then one morning, I was in a hurry and decided to skip book time...and let's just say, that did not go over well. Juliet got really grumpy and angry and let me know it in that special way that only a ticked-off baby can. After that, I made sure I didn't skip our special time together. These snuggly book times really meant something to her and they became a way for both Ben and myself to really bond with our infant daughter.
That sweet little baby is now a charming two-year old--the love and joy of our lives. We STILL read books a lot, though not as frequently throughout the day as we used to. After Juliet stopped taking a bottle, and after dropping some naps (now I am lucky if she takes a nap at all), the book times have established themselves to before "nap time" (read: mom needs a break time) and before bed. These are a MUST. Of course, to us, anytime is a good time for a book and we often just read them whenever we feel the urge.
Our routines have evolved over the past two years--we went from pointing at pictures and describing what we saw, to reading the words, to having her "read" the books to us (a little stage where God forbid mommy or daddy do ANYTHING for her) back to us reading them to her again (she has graciously granted us her permission.)
What started out as a way for me as a new mom to make sense of my new role has turned into our family's primary bonding activity. We all love it and we especially love the name Juliet has for it: special time. I can't help but smile when I hear her walk over to Ben and say, "Hey Dad, wanna go have special time and read some books?" It's music to my ears.