Before you have a baby, the notion of reading them a bedtime story as they lay curled on your lap is one of the most appealing images of parenthood. I spent ages browsing bookshops when I was pregnant to find beautifully-illustrated baby books with inspirational and empowering sub-texts. Fast forward two years and guess what my daughter’s favourite book is? Well it’s a toss-up between a Peppa Pig story about a goldfish, or the Dominos Pizza menu. The closest thing you get to a sub-text in that is the calorie content of a Mighty Meaty.
Like it or not, your toddler will find their own way to enjoy books, and it’s likely to be nothing like how you imagined. Here are seven things all parents know to be true about reading with their toddlers:
1. You rarely get past page three before another book is thrust under your nose. Just when your interest is piqued and you want to know who you’re about to spy next in Each Peach Pear Plum, you’re Peepo-ing your way through another book.
2. If you do manage to get to the end of a book, the chances are you’ve had to read it with the speed of a terms and conditions segment in a car finance ad. Toddlers race through the pages like they’re dying to find out what happens at the end of a gripping whodunit.
3. No matter what well-loved and critically-acclaimed books you try to read to them, your toddler will always prefer the cheap flashy-coloured Blaze & the Monster Machines book that you flung in the trolley for them at the supermarket to keep them quiet.
4. Toddler books make you realise how effed-up nursery rhymes and fairy tales really are. Why do we think it’s OK to tell toddlers about a little girl that is nearly eaten by a wolf dressed as her grandmother? That’s some crazy Norman Bates shit right there! Night night, little one! Let me tell you about a boy and a girl who are forced into an oven by an old lady witch! Sweet dreams!
5. Lift the flap books lose some of their mystique and ability to grab the reader, when every single flap has been ripped out of the book by an over-zealous toddler.
6. And don’t even start with pop-up books. After a few rounds with an aggressive pre-schooler, each page quickly resembles a scene from apocalypse now; teddy bear limbs torn off and flailing about once they’ve been grabbed by a chubby little hand.
7. There is no such thing as ‘one’ bedtime story, toddlers will drag out bedtime in any way possible. So when you’ve passed out on the nursery floor with Dear Zoo draped over your face at 7.30pm, you can assume your toddler will still be busily flinging books from the bookcase – and depending on how well you’ve hidden it – smearing all the children’s classics with a liberal splodge of Sudocrem.
Despite replaying all of these scenarios every night, over and over again, it’s still got to be one of my favourite parts of the day. And not entirely because I know I won’t see the toddler again for 10 hours or so.
This is a guest post by Charlotte Archibald AKA Musing Mum