About a month ago, maybe longer, I began to realize that my son is completely out of the toddler/preschool stage and is about to become a full-fledged preschool/real kid. You know, like the ones I work with and teach at school. The shift was subtle and you'd think I'd have noticed it sooner with the way he's been growing and losing all those cute round baby dimples. But it seems like the kids I see all the time barely change until you look at a picture from 6 months ago and realize they've been growing right before your very eyes.
I remember thinking one night recently, while my son was picking out his bedtime story, that he hadn't been picking my favorite truck board books like Dig, Dig, Digging and Little Blue Truck anymore. Instead his picks were always picture books and the longer, the better. At first I thought he was merely putting off bedtime by picking the longest books, but through our conversations about the books and the questions he was asking I began to realize maybe he was ready for more.
So, I hunted around my kindergarten classroom for a few easy chapter books to try reading at bedtime. We read a couple of Henry and Mudge books by Cynthia Rylant, which he really loved and could still be read all in one night. Then I decided to try the first book in the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osbourne called Dinosaurs Before Dark. We read a couple chapters a night and I made sure we talked about what happened each time we read to see if he was following the story line. My son loved it and we finished the book in just three nights. Each night we finished reading, I thought I should get a bookmark and bring it upstairs to keep our place in the book. That way I will know where we left off the night before. And like the busy mom that I am, each night I forgot.
Now originally what I had in mind for a bookmark probably consisted of a post-it note or one of those little subscription cards from a magazine because that's what I typically stick in my books. I know, it sounds a little weird, I have bookmarks, but I can never seem to find them when I need them. Then after we finished the first book, I actually completely forgot about bookmarks altogether, until I stopped in to pick up something from one of my friends and she was having her daughter, who is the same age as my son, make bookmarks, you know to keep their place in the chapter books she has been reading aloud to her.
What a great idea! And so easy too! All you need is paper and supplies to decorate with. I used cardstock from my scrapbooking collection of stuff that I never have time to pull out, but you can use anything from construction paper to a piece of thin cardboard from the side of a cereal box. I cut the cardstock into 2 inch by 6 inch rectangles, the perfect size for small chapter books. Then my son, daughter and I decorated the bookmarks with markers and stickers. It was fun, simple and something that I thought would take 5 minutes actually took more like 25 minutes and I had to practically pull the markers out of their hands. I do caution you with giving your 19 month old a marker though, because despite my scrubbing, my daughter still has blue hands. I guess the markers weren't as washable as I thought.
Now we are ready to start the second book in the Magic Tree House series, Knight At Dawn. I can't wait!