Over the last few months, I've noticed that Michael has been nurturing an interest in books (one that does not pertain to ripping, bending, stomping on, or eating them, that is). It started shortly before Mia was born, when he would linger nearby as I read to Abby. It's continued as he's begun to bring over specific titles for me to read, and even to verbally request that I do so, though I've only ever had the privilege of hearing him utter the command once. In the last three weeks, we've finally gotten to the point where we can sit him down for about a minute to read a bedtime story (The Going to Bed Book), and in the last few days, we've gotten him to sit through a second one, as well (Where's Spot?).
However, that seems to be his modus operandi in many things. He'll become involved in something to a degree, and appear to be only mildly invested. Then, all of a sudden, he's in with both feet. He's done this with food: only nibbling bits and pieces for months, then joining us for full-fledged dinners practically overnight. He's done this with clothing: for many months occasionally picking up a sock and tossing it around; now, clamoring for any item he can get his hands on to pull up onto his arm or over his head like a fashion accessory.
Finally, he's (seemingly) doing it with reading and speaking at the same time. My use of "seemingly" is a testament to my determination not to read too much into whatever developments I might observe in a single day. I'm desperate for my little guy to truly start speaking, but I know he's bound to go at his own pace, and I don't want to set any expectations- for myself, or for him.
Though he's barely done so for the past few weeks- with the exception of a broken copy of The Itsy Bitsy Spider, which he'd toss into my lap and run whining from as soon as I began to sing the lyrics contained within- he brought a book by for me to read to him yesterday. It was a cardboard, abridged version of Hop on Pop, which even in its shortened state was of a length I did not expect him to last through. Not only did he sit, transfixed, through the whole recitation, he lifted up the book and waved it in my face afterward. "Again?" I asked. I took his gleeful, "Eee hee!" as a "yes."
I ended up reading that book three more times in one sitting, and a couple more times over the course of that day. I've read it several more times today. He is obsessed with the thing. That- in and of itself- has been wonderful enough, for him to have so beloved a favorite book (though I will admit to being long past tired of reading the thing). However, something magical has occurred in all of the telling and retelling.
Michael has started to repeat the words within. Though I'm lucky to get one or two new words out of him per week (that he rarely, if ever, repeats again), I've heard three today- all from that book. This afternoon, as Tom sat reading it to him: "Hop! Pop!" This evening: "Fall." Not to mention his use of "up," which I don't count as new since he's said it before, but which he was inspired to repeat a couple of times today.
I'm not sure what delights Michael so about the book. I've never been a fan, myself- though I'm much more partial to the abridged version than the original- but my attitude is swiftly changing as I see the wonders it's doing for my son. Perhaps he's recently noticed that it contains a word that he knows (up). Perhaps he likes the simplicity of the language, or the obvious rhyme scheme. Perhaps he relates to it, because he surely likes to hop on pop himself.
Whatever the reason, I'm thrilled for him.
And now I'm plotting how to get him hooked on a Charles Dickens book next. That should really diversify his vocabulary, no?