Books Are Fun
As parents, many of us imagine blissful moments of shared reading with our children before they are even born. We get excited to share our favorite childhood stories with our kids. We gather our board books, set up that rocking chair and wait for the day our little one actually shows interest in the books we’ve been reading to them all along. Flash forward to a toddler who can’t stand still and would rather rip apart Goodnight Moon than listen to you read it. Just how do we go from ‘frazzled’ to ‘dazzled’ during shared reading time?
In this post, you will learn some different ways to encourage your child to get engaged and enjoy reading time!
- The first thing to keep in mind when reading with toddlers is to MAKE IT FUN! If they are not engaged, you might as well be reading to an empty room. Things you can do to turn up the joy:
- Have them pick out the book
- Choose books that have an interactive element. Think: books with flaps, touch and feel books, and books that make sounds.
- Rotate the books you have out by keeping some up and out of view. Trade them out intermittently to keep them new and exciting.
- Be silly! Use sounds effects. Change the volume and pitch of your voice.
- Add in tactile elements. Collect all those farm animal toys and have your child pick out each one to match the appropriate page.
- Let go of your expectations of sticking to a narrative, turning the pages sequentially, or finishing a whole book before moving on. Talk about what you see on the pages. Look for that hidden mouse your toddler loves pointing out. Remember: you are only working on getting that buy-in to start with!
- Choose books that are developmentally appropriate. While this may seem obvious, it is important to keep a few things in mind:
- Make sure your child is able to manipulate and explore the book at least somewhat independently. Infants do well with cloth books while toddlers benefit from a chunky flap book.
- Younger toddlers benefit from books with simple or more limited images while older toddlers may be more engaged by a busier visual field.
- Books with a repetitive narrative allow for more repetitions of fewer words, encouraging vocabulary development.
- When buying or renting books, look for subject matter based in reality rather than fantasy. This will target ideas and words that the child has many chances to encounter in their day-to-day life (i.e., household items, vehicles, different places in the community, etc.) Expressive language development is enhanced by consistent exposures to the same words and concepts.
- Build reading into your child’s daily routine:
- When reading is integrated into a toddler’s daily routine they are able to anticipate what is coming up next, helping them feel secure and in control. This increases the likelihood that they will accept and (eventually) enjoy reading time!
- Start with adding reading to an already established routine. It will be easier to add on rather than find time to fit it in elsewhere. (Before bed is always a great idea due to the mellow nature of shared reading)
- Choose short books to start out with. Increase length as the child becomes familiar with the new routine.
- Allow the child to play independently while you read aloud. Invite them to participate frequently.
Remember to start slow, be patient, and don’t give up! Consistency is the key to teaching your children that books ARE fun!