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How A 4 Year Old Falls In Love With A Book

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I can read you at least a dozen books without looking at a single page, because as a mom of two I've learned how a 4 year old falls in love with a book... twice over. And I can tell you that part of that process is wanting mom to read one very particular book over and over and over again. No, it didn't matter how many books we had in our home or available at our local library, my kids wanted what they wanted.

Don't get me wrong, one of the most exciting things I've done as a parent is introduce my children to the joys of reading. From cardboard books they were only really interested in chewing on, to the chapter books my third grader has been delving into, it's been so much fun to witness their love of reading evolve. My kindergartener is beginning to learn how to read now and I'm so pumped for the day everyone in my family is literate. It's not just because reading has meant so much to me and I want her to have that gift for herself, but because it can be exhausting to be solely responsible for the voracious, obsessive reading habits of a child who can't read, especially when it's the same beloved book over and over again.

Here's how the process of immersing themselves in that book goes, from a book-loving 4-year-old child's point of view:

Stage 1: Refuse This Strange New Book

What. Is. This? The Happy Little Dinosaur?

*swipes book out of sight immediately*

I already have a favorite book. How dare you suggest I read literally anything else, you apostate! Why would I branch out to The Happy Little Dinosaur when The Funny Duckling is the best book that ever was or ever will be. How do you even follow that act? When the Funny Duckling slips on that banana peel? Classic. You can't top that.

Stage 2: Begrudgingly Succumb To This New Book

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Ugh. I can see you've got it in your head that you don't want me to be happy so OK, whatever, let's read this stupid Happy Dinosaur book. Just be prepared for the irrevocable damage that will no doubt result from my being denied my favorite book in the world for a single night. I hope you like paying for therapy.

Stage 3: Ask For Book Again

Ummm... Duckling who? The Happy Dinosaur is EVERYTHING. For real! That book is life itself! I did not know great literature until this book. I can't believe you kept it from me for so long! Let's read it again! And then again tomorrow night! And then again!

Stage 4: Incorporate Book Into Playtime

OK, so I didn't want to say anything, but as much as I've enjoyed pretending to be The Happy Dinosaur for the past few days, I am woefully bereft of a dinosaur costume. Have I mentioned that I wanted one before now? No. But I feel, as my parent, you should have anticipated my needs. I'm 4, for goodness sake! I can't be responsible for this on my own. I don't want to say you're failing, but I'm afraid people will start saying that if I don't get a dinosaur costume pretty soon, you know? How am I supposed to have a childhood full of whimsy and imagination if I can't convincingly look like The Happy Dinosaur, my favorite character of all time?

Stage 5: Incorporate Parent Into Book-Inspired Playtime

*zipping up dinosaur costume, eyes turn to parent*

Good. Thank you.

Now, let's talk about how you're going to get into character to be Terri the Pterodactyl.

Stage 6: Memorize Book

Honestly, the page turning is a formality at this point, but an important one.

Oh, and when you try to skip pages so that it goes by faster? Do you understand how that frankly belittles us both?

Stage 7: Scream When Parent Asks If You Can Read Something Else

Are you kidding me right now? I seem to remember someone pushing this book on me and now that I actually like it you want to take it away? Is this all some sadistic game to you? Absolutely not. We're reading The Happy Dinosaur for the 1,200th time and that's final. I'll not hear another word about this... whatever garbage you're trying to read to me so that I grow up maladjusted and miserable.

Stage 8: Discover Related Books

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Did you know The Happy Dinosaur is part of a series?! And did you know that there are many other suggested titles for people who liked The Happy Dinosaur? This is delightful! Absolutely delightful!

Oh, we're not going to read any of them. I'm quite happy with the original book, thank you. But it's nice to know others exist.

Stage 9: "Lose" Book

WHERE IS IT?! I LEFT IT RIGHT THERE NEXT TO MY BED EARLIER TODAY AND NOW IT'S GONE AND I CAN'T FIND IT AND SOMEONE CALL THE POLICE AND PUT OUT A REWARD FOR IT'S SAFE RETURN!

Stage 10: "Celebrate" When The Book Is Found

It's so lucky that you found it so quickly just now... high up on that shelf that I couldn't possibly have reached on my own. It's almost as though someone, some tall adult, was trying to hide it from me because they didn't want to read it anymore. But I don't know anyone who would dare to do that, do you? Interesting. Interesting indeed.

Stage 11: Get New Book

What's this? The Happy Dinosaur 2: Dinosaur Makes A Friend? But, we discussed this and I'm more than a little tired of your constant negativity toward The Happy Dinosaur.

Stage 12: Repeat Cycle For The Rest Of Forever

... or at least until they can read on their own.