Elena goes through cycles with her favorite things–especially books and toys. We recently spent a few minutes organizing her bookshelf, so maybe she will rediscover some old favorites that have been out of the loop, and we’ll spend more time reading those in the near future. For the past few days, however, her focus has been the classic A Pocket for Corduroy.
We’ve read Corduroy so many times that I decided it was time to start seeing how well Elena knew it. At first I would pause before the last word of some sentences, especially ones ending in nouns, to see if Elena would fill in the blanks. She did! I started expanding the program–now we’re up to phrases in some places. One of her favorite parts to repeat is when the laundromat is closing and the manager says “closing time, everybody out!” Elena says the manager’s whole line.
I try to to notice when she deviates from the words on the page and figure out what’s going on with her thought processes. When I stop too early, she usually paraphrases and drops most of the words that aren’t nouns, verbs, or adjectives. Sometimes I see what happens with an unfamiliar word: one example is when an artist is described as wearing a beret, which Elena calls a beret-hat. We must have talked to her about what a beret is one time, and the explanation stuck. Finally, there are things that are still outside of her imagination, like when Corduroy pretends he is skiing down a steep mountainside. Elena replaces that with something that makes sense to her (although I can’t think of what that is at the moment). At the end of the book, she always likes to nuzzle noses, just like Lisa and Corduroy.
We’re also starting to make up our own stories. Somehow she has managed to train me for cuddle time after we brush her teeth and before she gets into bed. She usually wants to look at pictures of cousin Ginny or other things on my iPod, but I tell her we can’t do that every night. On the other nights, I’ve started to spin stories about Elena and her horse Kaya–Elena chose the horse’s name. I think I started out calling Elena a princess, but that hasn’t been a big part of the stories so far. The main thing that Elena and Kaya do is find bodies of water and splash rocks into them. That’s what Elena likes, and I’m still getting used to this new medium, so I’m not very good yet. With practice, I hope we can find a storytelling style all our own.