Okay, book loving moms of toddlers . . .
I know you had idyllic dreams in your head of curling up with books for hours minutes on end with your children. For the first year or so, that was probably true, especially when they weren’t mobile– you had a captive audience, if you will.
Now, your days are filled with running around the house, or watching them move all their toys back and forth from one room to another and being fascinated by it. If you try to read to them, forget it. You try to wrangle them in your lap but they are. not. having. it. You open a book and hear an emphatic “NO” from their mouth.
Before you get too discouraged that your little guy or gal has fallen off the reading bandwagon (or will never get on), here are some tips and ideas to get your tot interested in reading:
1. Don’t push it: If you force the issue, they will resent it. Let them play with what they wants to for awhile, and simply try again another time. There is so much that they are learning through any kind of play at this age! All the others tip will flow from this one. You can lead a toddler to a book, but you can’t make him read–or something like that.
2. Create an environment for reading: Have books readily available for them to grab, and display books that they are most interested in. The library is a great resource for all your truck, Elmo, Dora, puppy books! Also, a designated reading area helps a lot.We have a space under our stairs that already had shelves in it when we moved in last year. I’m sure the previous owners used it as storage or a pantry, but I bought a cute curtain (love that Pillowfort brand from Target), a pillow and some blankets and put all our books in it. It’s been dubbed “the book area.”
3. Go to a Story Time: Sometimes a little “ positive peer pressure”: aka seeing other kids listening to stories and reading with their parents is enough to do the trick for awhile (for, like, 2 seconds. But still–small victory! :)).
3. Take advantage of naptimes and bedtimes: Once my oldest figured out that if we kept reading books to him he could put off going to bed, he became a WHOLE lot more interested in books. Take advantage of times in the day when they are more tired and want to cuddle to get your reading in. We found that as we approached toddlerhood, reading just wasn’t going to get done at the beginning of the day.
4. Have them “fill in the blanks” on favorite stories: One way that we build vocabulary and get our kids involved in reading is to pause at the end of a sentence in a favorite read-a-loud. They will finish the sentence by saying it out loud and we give them lots of praise.
5. Consider books that have real life pictures: If your toddler is anything like mine, they love looking at pictures and picture albums. Especially pictures of themselves. Seriously, my kid will sit for nothing, until I whip out my phone and start scrolling through pictures of him. We found the book Below by Nina Crews at the library and we love it because it uses real life pictures to help tell the story. My kids are a lot more apt to sit and look and listen with pictures like that for some reason.
6. Build an high quality library: I love following the handles @everydayreading and @hereweread (diversity and inclusion expert) for book suggestions. Some other recent favorite kid books: Last Stop on Market Street, Iggy Peck, Architect, The Book With No Pictures, Beekle, and Nature Anatomy. For the really little ones, we love the “That’s not my _________” series by Usborne (example here) and Hoppity Frog.
7. Lead by Example: Let them see you read! Like most anything, a love for reading is caught, not taught.