We checked out a fresh batch of library books recently, and Pen Elaine’s current favorite is one by Jez Alborough called It’s the Bear! This must be a follow up to another favorite of ours called Where’s my Teddy? Our current favorite is about a little boy and his mom going on a picnic, but the boy is afraid of a bear in the woods. Well, the situation gets pretty funny and the little boy ends up being somewhat justified in his anxieties that his mom had doubted. The pictures are just as delightful and compelling, with their interpretations of size and emotions, as the previous story by Alborough. The words build suspense and at the same time rhythm with the rhymes and fun of the story being told. Sometimes, even though Pen has chosen the book, she feels nervous for the boy at the beginning and will say “no, no…” Pen Elaine has quickly started mouthing along with my reading and finishes sentences and pages, making this story fun and interactive.
Reading together is an opportunity for joint attention or mutual gaze, in which we are both attending to the same point of interest at the same time. Research has shown that infants and young children actually have better memory for objects they’ve seen during joint attention, better learning, and higher brain activation (example article by Reid & Striano) than when attending to the same object independently.