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Repost: Reading Tips From A One-Year-Old

It’s rerun week at 101 Books! Today’s post originally appeared on February 3, 2012. 101 Books will return live on Monday July 9. 


One-year-old kids are an observant lot.

How do I know? I have one of those little beings, and he’s like a sponge.

See daddy reading? I want to read! See mommy doing yoga? I want to make my head appear as if it’s coming out of my knee! Watch this!

Toddlers are basically a miniature, peanut-buttered face version of you. Don’t let them fool you into thinking they are anything less. My little guy doesn’t realize it, but I’m on to him, too. I watch him like he watches me.

And I’ve realized that he’s a treasure trove of reading tips. You might not know it, but a one-year-old can teach you a lot about reading. Can he really read, you ask? Oh, stop it with the silly questions.

Of course he can(not) read. But that doesn’t mean he’s not an excellent teacher. Here’s just a light sampling of the tips I’ve picked up from my little guy:

  1. If you don’t like a book, stop reading it—right at the moment you realize you don’t like it. Don’t forge onward. Move on to something else immediately, like a half-eaten cracker or an Elmo coloring page.
  2. Anyone who tells you that a pony can’t be a good protagonist is a liar. Total liar.
  3. Books with pictures and, preferably, stickers, are highly underrated.
  4. Skipping pages is not only preferred; it’s highly recommended. Who cares about the first four pages? Elmo’s long-winded anyway. Jump right into the middle of the book. That’s where the action is. If you’re reading Virginia Woolf, you won’t have missed much.
  5. You can never, ever read a book too many times. If you like a book, read it at least 14 times in one sitting. Better yet, have someone read it to you 14 times in one sitting. The moment the last word is read, be sure to say “again” with emphasis.
  6. E-readers aren’t all that bad, but they tend to not work as well when smeared with cheese and tomato sauce.
  7. When approaching bookshelves, pull all the books down on the floor, and sit on top of them for five seconds. Then just walk away. That’s a real crowd pleaser.
  8. Christmas books are always in season. When Santa appears in a book, always point to him, referring to him as “Ho Ho” or, alternatively, “Ho.” Be warned, though: This can bring judgmental stares during Christmas season at the mall.
  9. Books about choo choo trains are the coolest. Seriously. Tolkien really missed the mark when he created a fantasy world without choo choos. A bright red, happy-faced choo choo would’ve made Frodo’s trip much easier.
  10. Image is everything. Make sure you read a little Joyce in public. The ladies like that. (See photo.) But don’t obsess over it. That’s not cool. Just act all casual, like “Yeah, I’m reading James Joyce in a Starbucks. I’m smart, athletic, and confident enough in my manhood to read James Joyce in public. Are you intrigued, dear lady?”

As my son gets older, I’m sure I’ll pick up even more reading tips from him, and I’ll be sure to pass those along to you. In the meantime, remember that choo choos make everything better. And ponies are totally okay as story headliners.

Am I the only one, or have the kids in your life taught you something about reading…or anything else unexpected?

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5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Number 5 made me smile. I don’t have children of my own yet but I do a lot of reading to my nearly two-year-old niece, which usually involves re-reading something a million and one times. But I’ve always been a big fan of re-reading my favorite books too. So, if there’s anything that my niece has taught me about reading, it’s that if you enjoy something, why not make the most of it by enjoying it all over again?


    July 2, 2012
  2. You forgot one – to really understand the story you have to turn the book upside down. Haven’t tried this with Joyce yet but am thinking it might work….


    July 3, 2012
  3. You can never read a book too many times. It’s not about the ending, it’s about the experience.


    July 3, 2012
  4. That is so adorable


    July 17, 2012
  5. King Richard #

    And the iPad Elmo books are interactive…. you can only have your two year-old ‘read’ it soo many times, before he knows all the ‘traps’ to holding back the page from turning, from Grover’s Glue, paper clips, vaulted doors, etc… (Elmo & Grover – Monster in the back of the book)


    July 25, 2012

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