We read with the girls, a lot. Along with the reading we do with them, we also make sure the see us regularly reading by ourselves–setting an example). I recently posted videos of the girls “reading” books on their own. This was not an overnight thing–far from it. Just a few months ago I had to remove their bookcase and most of their books (still making sure to read a substantial amount), only leaving their Indestructibles. The Hungry Caterpillar had a new hole–one that Eric Carle did not intend on being there– and a few others were becoming rather soggy.

Mouthing items is normal. Although normal, we still need to learn to treat materials appropriately and only chew on objects that are made for chewing, like teethers.

When seeing the books being used as teethers, we would redirect. “Books are for reading. But tethers are for chewing, so let’s grab one of your teethers and we’ll read the book together.” If they weren’t interested in reading with me or the teether and went back to taste testing books, it was time to put the book away.

Patience. To begin, remember that with the mastering of any new skill, it will take time along with lot and lots of patience. Learning to care for books will come, just as learning other milestones will come to be. This will not happen overnight (or maybe it will, how awesome would that be!), so try to enjoy the little breakthroughs as they come and not rush the process. This sounds silly, but I’ll sometimes say to myself, “how many adults do I see____?” We never want to compare children to one another, but asking myself this silly question just reassures me that, in time and at their own pace, this will ultimately work out–no need to worry.

Indestructibles. I’m torn about using Indestructibles as there are no natural consequences. They can chew, attempt to rip, and throw these around with no damage happening to the book, they just become crinkled. I dislike the idea of taking their books away if I need to leave the room for a moment and yet I’m not able to watch them 24/7, so these were a great alternative. Once I noticed they were turning the pages more and chewing less, I knew we needed to do something more. With this revelation, I was excited to start progressing towards reintroducing other book materials.

Magazines. I subscribe to the Reminisce magazine, which the girls and I will often read together–this also allows them to see how I treat these materials. I soon realized that once I’ve finished reading them, they would be the perfect material for the girls to practice their ability to treat reading materials gently. They can read these magazines, even unsupervised, to their hearts content as they are learning to treat books more gently. And if an accidentally rip occurs (it happens), it’s not at the expense of a $17 book.

Board books with holes or textures. The girls have found great interest in books that contain cutouts. While they enjoy looking at picture in books, it’s almost like they didn’t know what to do next, so they started to mouth the book. Books with holes or textures (like the touch and feel books) add something extra to their reading experience. Now they look at the pictures and look through the holes at their hands, the floor, each other. They particularly enjoy You Are Light as there are cutouts and slight texture. They are also starting to enjoy the Wiggles book that involves tracing patterns–it’s similar to the DIY meditation boards we work on together.

Board books with flaps. I then started offering board books with flaps. This seemed like the next step as they are appealing and potentially tempting. Some children may rip flaps off, but, so far, the girl have been careful. Like the holes and textures, flaps are just another thing that the girls are intrigued with. We started with the thick cardboard flaps, then moved to the flaps made of felt and then thin cardboard. I did this so they would learn to be more gentle by slowly increasing the delicacy of the material.

Thick board books and progressing to books with thinner pages. Like with the materials used for flaps, we want to be able to provide them with books made from a variety of materials–as they are able to treat them with care. This is something we are still evolving towards and it may be awhile until they have access to all books unsupervised–and that’s ok.

Small paper books. I found a few small books at the Dollar Store that are perfectly their size. This has allowed them to work with real books, with paper pages, but if something accidentally happens, they are just a dollar opposed to $15.

Grace. This is my new favourite word and something I’m trying to live by more. Accidents will happen, it’s part of learning and growth. When they do happen just remember that book are material items and how we react will have a greater impact on our children than the cost of a book will have on our checkbook. Lots of calm words, gentle explanations and guidance with many deep breathes.

Check out this post if you would to see how we are raising readers.

Does your little one mouth books?

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