Most parents imagine themselves reading stories to their children, even when they are still in utero! Parenting and reading seem to go hand in hand. So, why is it, that your toddler is more into throwing the books across the room rather than snuggling up for a story? Some kids are magnets to books, but others need a bit more prompting to develop a fondness. You can make major moves in this department just by altering the way you present books to your child.
It is natural to feel you want the best for your little one. But just because your 18-month old isn’t into books, doesn’t mean his future isn’t bright! It’s sometimes tough for books to compete with figurine play, fun time with you, and lively outings and events – all which are great alternatives! And, if your toddler is constantly trying to get a peek at technology, that is also pretty typical. The lights, colors, and animation of screen time make it nearly impossible for children to resist. Don’t worry; it’s not too late to encourage a love for reading. Check out these 4 practical tips that can make a dramatic difference!
Start with Interactive Books
While this may be your worst nightmare, this is a wonderful start for promoting the warm and fuzzies for books in general. Try to consider what motivates your child. Is that certain popular characters (I’m looking at you, Paw Patrol)? Or perhaps zoo or jungle animals? What about colors, numbers, shapes, or letters? Regardless of my suggestions, find what is specific to your toddler’s interests. If they aren’t showing too much affection towards anything just yet, then the pressure is off! Grab a book that has buttons, sounds, or textures. Something rather than a plain ‘ole storybook. Don’t be discouraged that this is all your little one prefers for now. This is a great segue to the real deal!
Choose Simple Books for Story Time
Now that your little one is tolerating a fun (& possibly noisy) interactive book, let’s kick things up a notch! I know it is tempting to read your tot your favorite childhood story that your parents read you, but for the time being, follow your toddler’s likes and interests. Again, only you know what your child loves best – and don’t be afraid if it doesn’t fit the conventional mold. There are no hard rules here! Upon choosing a book, keep in mind the shorter the better to build up tolerance and keep your child motivated. If you are simply just talking about the book and the pictures, that is a wonderful start. Don’t worry so much about the words in the beginning! They will come in due time. Once you do start to actually read the pages, it also may be helpful to shorten lengthy text to just one line.
Remain Optimistic & Be Tons of FUN
If you find that your tot is simply not engaged despite your efforts – aim to be more FUN! You heard me! Don’t be opposed to breaking out your silliest voices, funniest faces, and occasional light tickles. Also, if your child is just not having it, table the reading and try again later. It is more important during this interaction that you end on a high note. Getting upset in front of your child will not help shape their love for reading. It can actually backfire (so many rules, right?).
Choose the Right Reading Time
A lot of children are wiped out and overtired upon approaching bedtime. You may see this in the form of high energy or aggitation. While books are typically great for bedtime routines, this may not be the best time to introduce them to an unwilling participant! Instead, consider this introduction during your child’s best times. Is your child a morning person? Then, that is your go-time. Another handy trick is to keep a book in the car. Whether your little one is forward facing or not, your voice and fun animation will be hard to resist when there is literally nothing else to do! Seize the moment. It seems silly at first, but you can bust out your book after you pull into a store parking lot or your driveway, and simply read a few pages before going inside. This familiarity will also help when you read the same book in the house. Children often respond well to repetition, and with your silly, fun antics, this is a slam dunk!
These tips are helpful for those children seemingly resistant to books. In a matter of time, your child may go from no interest to you having to limit your child’s selection!
Amy Douglas is a Certified Sleep Consultant at Baby Sleep Central. Recently named as one of the Best Sleep Consultants in the United States, Douglas works with parents of children from Birth – Age 6. Help your baby, toddler, or child sleep more independently, starting tonight.