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Today a reader, tomorrow a leader

Every night, we read books together before Maya goes to bed. I like to read bedtime-themed books at bedtime, because it helps to set the tone and model good sleep routines for her. Usually we read one or two books in English, and one or two books in Spanish, and we switch them out periodically. See our list below of some of our favorite 

Last night, we read The Going to Bed Book, then Goodnight Octopus, and finally Buenas Noches Luna, which Maya decided she wanted to "read" to me by herself. I was impressed with how many of the items in the illustrations she was able to identify, as she held the book and turned the pages, narrating what she could. But instead of saying "good night," or "buenas noches" to el globo rojo, la viejita, los tres ositos, la luna, los caletines, los gatitos jugatones y el ratoncito, she said "Hello!" to all of them! It made me laugh, and reminded me of when I would do running records and miscue analysis on my ESL students. 

Saying "hello" instead of "good night" is a miscue known as substitution, when a young reader substitutes one word for another while reading. Sometimes these substitutions make sense in context, and sometimes they do not. An emerging reading might use substitution when they don't understand a word being read, or it could be a logical substitution, which does not change the meaning of the text. In this case, it demonstrates that the student is reading from meaning, which is the most important skill.

Obviously Maya wasn't reading the words on the page, and instead was reciting by memory and identifying what she recognized in the images. But at 2.5 years old, it is still an impressive beginning to early literacy! And her ability or "read" the book, even with substitution "hello" for "good night" demonstrated to me her comprehension skills and the extent of vocabulary she has gained from our nightly reading routine. 

For that reason, it is important to read books over and over to young children. Research has proven that reading and rereading picture books boost vocabulary and comprehension. Additional research suggests it's not the number of books, but the repetition of each book that leads to greater learning. Therefore, it's not the vast quantity of books a child has, but repeated exposure to those books that can really make a difference in their development. 

So, I will continue to read and reread whichever books Maya wants before bed, and continue to encourage her to "read" them back to me, to practice that vocabulary in English and Spanish that we are instilling in her. 

Our favorites bedtime books are ...
Hello Boston by Martha Zschock   

The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton

Goodnight Octopus by Caleb Burroughs, (which ironically has encouraged Maya to brush her teeth before bed because she wants to "brush, brush, brush" like the octopus!) 

Goodnight Beach by Adam Gamble

Buenas noches luna (the Spanish Edition of Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown)

La noche en que tu naciste (the Spanish Edition of On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman)
Siesta by Ginger Fogesong Guy


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