“In a great green room, tucked away in bed, is a little bunny. “Goodnight room, goodnight moon.” And to all the familiar things in the softly lit room—to the picture of the three little bears sitting in chairs, to the clocks and his socks, to the mittens and the kittens, to everything one by one—he says goodnight.”
When Mary was two years old, we read this book to her every night for a while. I would walk around her bedroom with her, facing forward in my arms. We would say goodnight to the light switch, good night to the curtains, good night to her teddy bear, etc. And she would giggle. And then settle down. It was part of the ritual.
From babyhood, we read books to our children, cuddling them as they went to bed. We also read stories whenever they would bring us books to read. We are a reading family.
So when Mary was placed in special education at 5 years of age, with a 2.5 rated age for reading readiness, among the questions that I asked myself over and over was “Haven’t I read to her and with her since she was a baby?” It didn’t make sense to me.
At that time, I tried to follow guidebooks. Dr. Spock was my go-to reference book. If parenting could be done by the book, I was an expert. Earnestly, we raised our children. We cared for them, read to them, gave them delicious food, played with them, etc. We did what all caring parents do for their children. Maybe there should have been an asterisk on Dr. Spock’s book and all such books – “Results not Typical, for special needs children.”
When my children were all placed in special education in the space of a year (1991-1992 school year), all that we had done for them was thrown into doubt. Why, if I did everything by the book, were my children in special education? It all seemed upside down.
I didn’t throw my Dr. Spock Baby & Child Care book away, but I wanted to. I kept it for disease identification from that time onward, having to do with measles, pinkeye, etc. (There was no Internet back then.) I started reading different guidebooks.
However, we did continue reading to our children. We did continue the night time routines. They say many children with autism thrive on routine and structure. (Breaking the routines can and did result in meltdowns). For our family, the bedtime pattern (bath, story, song, prayer), remained a very precious time.
What were/are your children’s favorite stories?
I absolutely loved Goodnight Moon, but my all time favorite is called A Porcupine Named Fluffy by Helen Lester. Though I’m not autistic, I most definitely thrived because I had a bedtime routine when I was a child. It seems to be a good practice for parents and their children to get into.
Ann Kilter said:
I agree with you. Routine is a comfort for children, knowing they can depend on certain parts of their day. I think it makes learning easier.
I have always read to my son, literally, hundreds of books. He did not fall asleep one single time over it, and still needs plenty of downtime afterwards. At a time, when he was still a bit too young to understand all of it, I worked myself through all the DrSeuss books and found it really hard (not my mothertongue) but we enjoyed it both as we discovered them together. Today, he reads every night by himself and while he still needs a very long time to get to sleep, I think it’s the best thing you can do as part of a bedtime routine, for any child!
Ann Kilter said:
Agreed. And it prepares them for a lifetime of reading. A very good thing indeed.
Lissa Rabon said:
and if any of them choose to be parents, they will have a wonderful, loving example of how it’s done. I read to my child too and he can not stand to read! He can get through about a paragraph before he has to set it down. ADD is the culprit, doctors say. He loves art and music and nature. I just hope as he reads to his daughter, he is remembering those lovely times as a child when he would sit on my lap with a book and know that she is loving it too. I really like your blog. It’s encouraging. Thanks for following mine.
Ann Kilter said:
Good to keep going on the reading. with. him.
How about books on tape for him? Does he watch TV. I know that I am showing my age by talking about books on tape. My brother listens to books on his phone. I guess you could listen to books on CD, or on an MP3 player now.