“No,” you say, “It’s Green Eggs and Ham!” Well exactly, and right at the moment it’s one of my 2½-year-old daughter’s bedtime favorites. To the extent she’s memorized it; and once a toddler’s memorized a book, you can branch out.

Stage One · Once the kid’s got it down pretty well, it’s time for audience participation. For example, you say “I do not like...”, let a pregnant silence fall, and eventually you get a little munchkin voice filling in the rhymes and line-ends. For both my kids, this was done with a serious face and voice.

Stage Two · In this scenario, you change the words: “I do not like blue eggs and ham”, then once again the pregnant pause, and the toddler leaps in with the correction; maybe in a sort of disturbed and urgent tone. You respond “Oh, right, green eggs...”. After a couple of times she realizes it’s a joke and you get giggles with each correction.

Stage Three · At some point, both my kids realized that when you do the Stage-One pregnant pause, they can change the words too; as in the “Toast” above in the title. In both cases, this involves a few moments of intense concentration, then barely-contained giggles; then when Dad says, in a loud and exasperated voice with lots of facial astonishment “It’s Ham!” the giggles become uncontrollable.

Stage Four · At this stage, you get sick of the damn book and hide it somewhere so you can read something new next bedtime.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Carolyn A. Colborn (Mar 29 2009, at 03:12)

One day last summer, my older brother wrote to me that he was reading to his step-grandson: “The maroon baboon was made a buffoon playing the bassoon.” (I’ll have to find out the name of the book). He added it is predicted that bassoon players will become extinct.

As goes the phenomenon of hearing a word repeatedly used after you first learn of it, so goes the playing of the bassoon. Not that I just first heard of the bassoon, but shortly thereafter, you posted this:

“Car-Free Vancouver” June 17, 2008


I sent it to my brother and said, “They aren’t extinct, yet, anyway!”

Ever since, every time I hear a piece on my local classical station with bassoon, which I seem to hear with a great deal of regularity, I figure they have been played all along and I am only just now noticing it because of my brother’s comments. Just the other day, they played a bassoon sonata by Michel Corrette. I’ve decided to start a bassoon musical collection. :^)

My niece’s name is Samantha and we call her Sam. One of her online names is (in part) Samerai, and when she told us this, my brother exclaimed, “Remember Dr. Zeus?” My niece and nephew both exclaimed, “Seuss!” ;^)


From: CathB (Mar 29 2009, at 05:45)

Hmmmm... I was just reading about that this morn on Jane Siberry's weblog (she's now known as ISSA) in a discussion about art and its societal and personal value. A reader named Timothy wrote:

I recently read that children go through four stages in developing what psychologists call a "theory of mind"--that assumption we all carry around that others have minds, thoughts, and feelings just like ours.

Those four stages are:

I know.

I know I know.

I know you know.

I know you know I know.

(Michael Lewis, quoted by Jay Ingram in "Theatre of the MInd")


I do not like geek eggs and spam!


From: Tim (but not THE Tim) (Mar 29 2009, at 13:19)

Stage Five: "WHERE does it say THAT?" in the same fun tones.. start to have them follow along with a finger, then go straigt phonics.

My daughter taught herself to read this way prior to kindegarten; during the enrollment process _she_ read a book to the school librarian instead of the other way around.

The downside (and I believe it was for this particular inidvidual, YMMV) was that in high school she was still memorizing pages which slowed her down quite a bit when she needed to be able to go through texts more quickly (or practice skimming ).


From: Michael Fuller (Mar 29 2009, at 15:02)

> I know.

> I know I know.

> I know you know.

> I know you know I know.

And the next stage is:

I know you do not always know what I know

...which leads to the discovery of lying.

The maturing brain is an amazing (and entertaining) thing.


From: Dustin (Mar 30 2009, at 23:45)

Sounds reminiscent of some improv comedy games/exercises we used to do in the theatre.


From: Paul Morriss (Mar 31 2009, at 06:36)

I used to use stage two as an attempt to see if they were really listening. Sure, you can play and listen at the same time, but look at another book and listen? Sometimes not always. OK, maybe my reading style could have improved.

However one of mine would really get upset if you changed the words. I guess sometimes it's important.


From: Grant Barrett (Apr 07 2009, at 07:37)

When you have an unusually low tolerance for repetition, as I do, the child's desire for the same things over and over is really hard. Our variant of intentional misreading helps. We point to a yak or gorilla or something and ask if that's Mama/Papa/the boy. He knows it's not and realizes we're being silly. Another way out of the endless loop is to find more books with the same characters or even just by the same artist. Another is to go through the book but to talk about the pictures instead of reading the words. Another is to read it wrong, or upside down, or from the back to the front, and he'll be very sure to set me right in my pretend confusion. And I do a kind of "filking" for books: I invent new rhymes on the fly until he stops me or his confusion makes him distracted.


From: Lexi (Apr 09 2009, at 07:18)

When my sister and I were kids, our parents fought the boredom of repetition by reading Peter Pan and the Lost Boys (the short Disney storybook, a condensed version of their cartoon movie, not the original JM Barrie) as "Skippy and the Found Girls." Everything was reversed in some way, which we found absolutely hilarious and thrilling--to the point where we refused to have it read the normal way ever again.


From: DT (Apr 17 2009, at 09:53)

So, so true.


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