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Toddler Tales: Bookworm

17/01/2012 15:24 | Updated 22 May 2015
Toddler Tales: Baby Diana readingD at a particularly riveting page...

Diana has recently developed a hunger for literature.

She has gone from a babe who couldn't even pretend to keep her eyes open when I read to her to one who eagerly and proactively initiates reading sessions. If you think I'm being smug (I wish!), I should clarify that her 'hunger' for books is literal – she is obsessed with gnawing on their cardboard corners, and explodes in fury when I stop her. So much for being one of those parents who pretends to harbour an infant genius...

D's interest in books is really exciting, though. She becomes so animated and vocal when we read together, screaming out when she recognises characters ('Moo!' for the cow, 'Baa!' for the sheep) and acting out bits (when we read the Mickey Mouse numbers book, D's interest in counting is nil, but she has learned to sniff out the chipmunks with her nose to the floor like Goofy).

I love that reading is one of our favourite activities to do together throughout the day (I read to her to keep her interested at meals, in the bath, while we're playing), and there's nothing sweeter than D curling up on my lap to listen to a story.

Well, I may be the only one who views it as a form of mother-daughter bonding. The other day, I felt slightly jilted when Diana took a book off the bookshelf (she is particularly enamoured of the easy-to-tear My Heart is Like a Zoo) and brought it over to a spot on the floor to sit down with it. When I came over to start reading to her, she grabbed the book and fled – two feet away – to another spot so she could 'read' in peace, before proceeding to chatter away in a mix of gibberish and occasional English to herself as she turned the pages. And completely ignored me.

I have several theories as to why D has begun to reject me as a reading partner. It may be due to the fact that I have been replacing the word 'dog' in every book we have (and there are many featuring dogs) with the word 'Bolshy' and excitedly pointing at Bolsh whenever a picture of a dog appears (which is slightly confusing, perhaps, since illustrated dogs in children's books tend to be slim and active-looking, while Bolshy is slightly tubby and constantly snoozing).

She also may be irritated at my inability to differentiate vocally between characters (I didn't realise that to become a more functional parent, I needed cooking classes, an acting coach and weight training sessions beforehand, but for those who don't have children – you've been warned); the last time we read Chocolate Mousse for Greedy Goose, my attempt at an Australian accent when channelling the kangaroo was so dispiritingly bad that D just walked off mid-way through.

Alternatively, D's rebellion may be her way of retaliating against reading Fancy Nancy – my fault, naturally. It's quite possibly the best book I've ever read – EVER (that's saying quite a lot considering I studied French and Russian literature at uni). Unfortunately, because I'm obsessed with it, I can't really let D closer to it than 10 feet away, which sort-of defeats her whole plan of holding onto the book so she can rifle through it/chew it/tear it.

One more theory: there has been some tension with Who Stole the Cookie From the Cookie Jar (enjoyable but very repetitive; D is obsessed, but also spends the whole time trying to bite the textured 3D cookies off the page). Spoiler alert: Daddy stole the cookie – so each time we reach the end, an excitable D starts screaming 'Da, da!' and running to look for Daddy, thinking he's home.

And when she discovers he isn't, well... so many emotional states are entered into in the span of minutes that it's probably worth me writing a book on my daughter's continued obsession with her father. I think I'll call it: Slap in the Face.

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