The classic book The Monster at the End of this Book (written by Jon Stone and illustrated by Michael Smollin) was published in 1971 and stars the very lovable, furry Grover from Sesame Street. It’s such a fun and engaging book for preschool kids (No, it is not scary!).
I’m going to tell you why I’ve always loved this book... and why it means even more to me now.
If you’ve read my post about Elmo you can see that I love to get right into character! I read this book to my kids when they were little and regularly put it into my therapy rotation for my preschool kids that I work with, complete with my best “Grover” voice. Kids have always been delighted with the storyline and it also elicits their mischievous side as they read it and actively turn the pages against Grover’s wishes (Grover implores the reader to NOT TURN THE PAGE because there is a monster at the end of the book), but I really do think the Grover voice is the “secret sauce”. 😉
My dad made a tradition of taking my 3 siblings and me to the library each Saturday as we grew up. It was important to my parents to instill the love of reading in us. My dad would let us roam the library and choose our books. At home, he read those books to us with different character voices, varying inflections to indicate emotions, with pauses to reflect and comment on the story, and to help us make predictions. In short, he really got into it! He did the same with his grandkids.
Last May 1, 2019 I was reading the Grover book to one of the children I work with in North Vancouver. My dad was in hospice at my childhood home back in Pennsylvania and things were very touch and go. I knew it could be any moment that I would get “the call”. Still, I threw myself into my session, gave it everything I had, because that’s what my dad would do and would want me to do. I think it may have been the best Grover voice I ever had! After I left the therapy session, I saw that I had a couple of missed messages while I was reading with this child.
He was gone.
I dedicate this post to my father, Richard E. Filippi. Thank you dad for the gift of literacy, the lessons you passed down to me, and our shared moments of reading together.
TIPS FOR READING TOGETHER
NOTE: Choose what is most appropriate for your child’s age and level
*Let your child choose a book (offering 2 choices is another option)
*Position yourself in front of your child if you can so they can see your lips (how speech sounds are formed) and facial expressions as you read the book. A booster seat or high chair may be helpful. Yes, its great to snuggle your child on your lap too as you read, but try to incorporate some of your reading time facing each other, especially if you are working with a child who has a speech or language delay.
*Get into character!
*Vary your tone and inflections (to indicate happiness, excitement, fear, anger, etc.). See if they can try making a character’s voice too!
*Help your child turn the pages (use board books with very young ones)
*Books that have doors to open are fun for youngsters, but avoid those types of books if your child seems more interested in just opening and shutting the doors than listening to the story
*Track each word with your finger so your child can begin to learn that reading goes from left to right and for them to become familiar with how words and letters look on the page.
*Read at least 15 minutes a day with your child (make it a routine, like a bedtime story after a bath for example, and/or “it’s reading time for everyone” during a quiet time during the day-for example if your child is transitioning out of nap time). Make it sound like a privilege (because it is!)
*Let your child see YOU read books, magazines, newspaper (not on a computer though)
*Pause to ask questions. ex: “What do you think will happen next?” “How do you think she feels?”; ask other types of questions based on age and ability of your child, such as functions of objects “What do we do with a ____”, object names, categories of things, point to the ____, “where is the _____”..”What sound does a cow make?”, etc. NOT just questions about colours and numbers, which aren’t as functional (They will get plenty of that in school, trust me!).
*Help them “recap” the story afterwards in their own words, using the pictures as clues as you turn the pages.
*Help your child point to the pictures
*Never force reading time. If a child refuses, try “reading” the story aloud to yourself (they might just come plop in your lap after all!), or try another time. Try rewording the request to read. Instead of “Do you want to read a story?” Try instead (in excited voice) “Oh! It’s time to read! Which should we read, ____ or _____?”
*If your child does not seem interested in books, try some books that have a song associated with them (Wheels on the Bus, for example)