I have had many people comment on our original Facebook profile photo for My Little Bookcase, so I thought I’d share the story behind the ‘photo shoot’.
This is my daughter, Cam, sitting in front of the bookcase. She is 14 months old and seems to share my passion for books. Until this ‘photo shoot’, most of Cam’s experiences with books involved sharing, looking at, and reading them with me. Although she has always had a few durable books amongst her toys to explore, reading time was generally determined by me.
Cam has not been mobile for very long. Once she started to move around the house independently, I decided to set up the ‘little bookcase’ for her. I was eager to give her a wider selection of books to explore. Access to a bookcase also means she can control when she feels like exploring books or reading with me instead of it being decided by me.
I set up the bookcase one afternoon while she was napping. When I first sat my daughter in front of the bookcase she sat motionless for at least five minutes. I have no idea what she was thinking or feeling, but the following thoughts could have passed through her mind:
- Wow! What a wonderful sight I see before me!
- Are these books for me?
- Can I touch them?
- Where do I start? Which book should I reach for first?
What would your child have done in this situation?
I’m sure you’re thinking that your bookcase wouldn’t have looked this neat for long. Well, neither did ours. Within 5 minutes the bookcase looked like this:
For two whole days, I could hardly pull Cam away from the bookcase, and she still makes frequent trips to the bookcase each day. As a mother I have been amazed by what I have observed as she sits by the bookcase and interacts independently with the books.
Many of the behaviors I observed demonstrate the way a child will use their own experiences to make meaning from the book and vice versa. They will also repeat actions and behaviors they have witnessed. I hope you don’t mind me sharing some of them with you:
- A regular observation is of Cam mimicking the reading process by turning pages one by one and babbling away as if reading the story herself
- Pointing to objects and attempting to name them (in a language only Mum would understand) or making their sounds (eg. baa)
- Spending some time looking at particular illustrations and laughing
- Turning the book to be positioned the right way up
- One day I noticed Cam was bringing an open book close to her face and then pulling it away and repeating the pattern. I was intrigued and had to investigate. As I got closer, I noticed that she had ‘Where is the Green Sheep’ (Mem Fox) opened to the page that says: ‘Here is the near sheep and here is the far sheep.’ She was bringing the book near to her face and then far from her face.
- It was my husband that noticed Cam place the Humpty Dumpty book on the middle shelf (Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall) and then knock the book off the shelf (Humpty Dumpty had a great fall). This is a song she knows well from her weekly swimming lesson.