Early Childhood Education: Introducing the Classics

I can’t remember where I read it, but I do recall a book that mentioned that aside from doing all the usual things you do with your child, you can also read complex (or more complicated) books to help stimulate development.  This is all part and parcel to exposing your child to all the different forms of language available.  When Gavin was a baby, I used to read my parenting books (among other things) out loud to him.  I honestly don’t know if this had any impact on his development, but I figured it doesn’t hurt one way or the other.  At the very least, reading out aloud is also good for me because it has been shown to help “age-proof” my brain.

Now that it is Gareth’s turn, I decided to take it one step further and take this opportunity to introduce the classics to both Gavin and Gareth.  After Gavin’s recent venture into the literary world away from everything Thomas, I felt encouraged to try something new.  At school, the teachers told us that Gavin loves listening to stories.  He can sit through book after book and has a few favourites that aren’t Thomas or related to trains!  Then recently, he agreed to buy a Dr Seuss book.  He also received some books for his birthday that aren’t Thomas books and he’s been asking me to read them to him over and over.  With such a positive response to other books, I thought he might be willing to listen to the classics.

I found a very affordable version of The Complete Works of Hans Christian Andersen retailing at the low price of RM29.90 and decided it was a worthy addition to Gavin’s growing library of books (they also had The Complete Works of Lewis Caroll but hubby thought Andersen’s book was a better bet).  My intention is to read a story from the book to the boys every night before they go to bed.  So far, we’ve only gotten through one and a half stories.  There are several problems that I’ve encountered:

  • Firstly, the book is cheap because it was printed with such tiny text that even I need a magnifying glass to read it.  Since I keep losing my place, the story starts and stops with no flow.
  • Secondly, the stories are in old English which is still understandable to me, but probably a little strange for Gavin to absorb.  This is another reason why the reading doesn’t flow – I keep stumbling over the text.
  • Thirdly, there aren’t any coloured pictures which is the part of the book that usually engages Gavin’s attention.

As a grown-up, one of the things I regret was never reading the classics as I was growing up.  I thought that if I could inculcate the habit from young, Gavin and Gareth would naturally gravitate towards the books themselves without my having to push them.  Yes, I know they are a bit young, but you will be surprised what very young children can pick up.  Never underestimate them.

So far, I’ve been taking Gavin’s cue – if he doesn’t want to hear the story, I stop reading and put away the book.  Of course, I try to make it more enticing for him to sit through the story.  For instance, if he doesn’t want to hear the story, then we turn the lights out and go to bed.  Gavin hasn’t been as keen as I’d hoped, but I haven’t given up – yet.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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