Reading books to your Toddler should be apart of your everyday lives as moms. If you have an active toddler like I do, it is very easy to be discouraged.
We have to keep in mind, it is normal for toddlers to not sit still very long. They are out exploring their environment! Your idea of snuggling up on the couch under a warm blanket while you read them a story is probably NOT the same idea that they have.
One important thing I had to learn; a few minutes at a time is perfectly fine! You do not HAVE to finish the story. As a matter of fact, the ONLY time I ever finish a story with Jordan is when he is ready to go to sleep and is worn out for his nap or bedtime. Even then, he’s usually chatting away, or more interested in toys.
Reading books from a young age is so important to your child. We have so much media anymore. I am not against TV like some people can be, but I do try to limit TV for my kids. I have my days just like every mom. Plop them down in front of the TV, and relax.
I actually did that A LOT until I enrolled Arlo in an early head start program. They really encouraged reading at an early age with him, and I took them up on it!
I never get very far reading to Arlo. He’s still in the oral stages of development, so he would rather eat the book than me read it. As long as he’s exploring it, I am happy! If you allow them to explore the books in ways that interest them, the books will become more meaningful to them as they grow.
Jordan was almost next to impossible as well for the longest time, but once I gathered up a few tricks while we read, it has become a really fun activity for us! These are some of the things we do to keep Jordan interested in the story that will work for your toddler too!
- Talk or sing about the pictures- with toddlers, they are not looking at the words. They are looking at the pictures! Jordan really likes when I point things out in the pictures, “Look at the balloon in the sky!” then tell a story along WITH the pictures. It can be something you make up. It can be what the book actually says. As long as they are remotely interested in what your doing, you’re doing it right!
- Let your Toddler tell the story- You would be surprise how WELL they can memorize a story. I’ve mentioned before how my kids love the movie Trolls. Well grandma also bought us the book, and Jordan loves to tell me what is about to happen as I read it to him. Let them be creative with the story!
- Show them the Cover page- I always ask Jordan to tell me what is on the cover, and he gets creative from there, or I egg him on, “Do you think the puppy’s will find his bone?”
- Let them Turn the Pages- Sometimes, I’m done before he is done. Sometimes, he wants to skip a page or two. It’s perfectly okay! If you let them do their thing, they are more likely to be engaged in the book!
- Make the Story Come Alive- There are so many ways you can do this, for me personally, I always change the tone of my voice. If they’re trying to be quiet I always whisper, as if we are actually in the story. You would be surprised how much attention it draws to the book!
- Show them the Words- As you read along, use your fingers to show them the words. They will pick up on that later on if they haven’t already. Jordan now does this himself, even if it’s not the right word.
- Make it Personal- Compare family or pets with the characters in the story. “Look! It’s a doggy like Jinx!” or “He’s grumpy like you when your tired.”
- Ask Questions throughout the story, and Encourage then to Ask Questions Too!- Use this to have a back and forth conversation with your kid(s). Me: “Do you think she will find her way home?” Jordan: “No, she’s too lost!” (and so on and so fourth)
Reading has gone from home at all, to multiple times a day. Remember, we are setting the foundation for our children. Little things like this will make a HUGE difference. Not only that, but it is a WONDERFUL way to bond with your active kids!
Tips to keep your child engaged in the story:
- As I’ve mentioned above, I always change the tone of my voice when I read. It REALLY helps them stay engaged in the story. Exaggerate, read in a dramatic fashion. It sparks their interest and they will stay engaged with the story much longer!
- Encourage them to hold a small toy while you read to them. This will keep their hands busy so they stay focused on the story.
- Try investing in touch-and-feel books, pop-up books, and books with flaps & hidden openings for them to explore.
- Read at snack time, they will be sitting longer to eat. Perfect opportunity to read!