As an elementary school teacher, I read with kids multiple times every single day for 6 years. That is a LOT of reading! When pregnant with my first child, I was so excited to give the gift of reading to them, having full confidence in myself that I would know how to offer it to them, instill a love of books and reading and provide a literacy rich environment.
Let me tell you. I was wrong. Dead wrong. This has been as much of a learning process for me as it probably is for you! Maybe even more. You see, for those six years of read alouds, silent reading, reading groups and shared writing, my 28 7-11 year olds could sit still. And pay attention. And comprehend. And talk about the story. And…and…and. And my 1 year old couldn’t! AH! I was so frustrated. Until I learned.
Reading with toddlers simply isn’t about the words on the page. It’s more about the experience you share together. It’s about choosing books that offer a rich variety of vocabulary. It’s about teaching them to turn the pages and hold the book in the right way. Your child can’t sit still while reading a book about bears? Great! Get off your hiney and ACT like a bear WITH them! Growl and pounce with your kiddo! Reading with toddlers involves more than lifting words off a page, it’s about bringing the book to life!
A few ideas for how to encourage your child to read from The Sixty Second Parent:
* Keep books EVERYWHERE! Out of sight, out of mind … the opposite is true here! If they are available to your child, chances are great that one day, your child will willingly pick one up on their own and engage in it!
* Let THEM choose what to read … don’t make reading a power struggle … if reading is enjoyable, they will want to do it more and more!
* Build several special times for reading into your day … when you wake up, before naps, after bathtime, etc … make it seem like it’s special and they will, too!
* Read when they ask you too … unless you’re driving 🙂 Again, if you show them it is important enough to stop cleaning the bathroom to read with them, they will pick up on this and it will become valuable time to them, as well.
* Sit with your child, close to them, but allow them to hold the book and turn the pages.
* Savor every minute of this special time! Allow this to be a time of bonding rather than a struggle … have FUN with it, and let your child take the lead. Chances are, they will, anyway!