Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Strategies for Retaining Sanity While Reading the Same Book to Your Child for the Hundredth Time

We’ve all been there. It’s reading time. To your horror, your child reaches for the shelf, then waddles your way waving the same book you read to him the night before. And the night before that. And, well, come to think of it, ten minutes ago.


You stall for time. “Say it politely?”

“Read, p’ease!”

Whereby the book is deposited in your lap. Dutiful parent that you are, you find your fingers opening to page one.

It is a truth universally acknowledged by parents far and wide that any book, no matter how good, becomes slow torture upon multiple rereadings. Dr. Seuss at his best can feel as dull as a hundred-page trust.

Here are a few strategies I’ve developed for keeping my head in the game.
  1. Act It. Pretend you’re Books on Tape’s latest star and let fly with the funny voices and weird accents. Your child will laugh.
  2. Slow It Down. Though the inclination is to go faster (to get it over with), try taking it even slower than usual, looking for new details. Stop and point out funny drawings neither you nor your child has noticed before. Surprise yourself with new discoveries on the one hundred and first reading.
  3. The Old Bait and Switch. Say something like this, “Great, sweetie. Let’s read a couple of pages of name of dreaded book here then move on to name of book that hasn’t bored you to death yet. Then we’ll get a snack, okay?”
  4. Daydream. The old standby. Next time you’re cornered into a repeat read, get in touch with your inner Walter Mitty. As you begin, work on your Oscar speech. Imagine your cover as People magazine’s Sexiest Person of the Year. Trust me: Your child won’t know the difference. At the end of the book, as inevitable as the morning sunrise, he or she will look at you with wide eyes and say, “Read again?"

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