If I had a dollar for every time I have heard the parent of a toddler say “He won’t sit still to read!” I would be typing this from my own private island. Toddlers and their capricious ways, Toddlers and their lack of focus, Toddler and their toys - Yes, those can all be barriers – or speed bumps if you will – in journey to helping your child becoming a lover of books and learning. BUT, there is hope! There are ways to work around all those things to remind your child that they really do already love to read.
When I think of a reluctant reader, I usually first imagine a child and a parent that are overwrought. So if the first problem with your child’s interest in reading is that you feel overwhelmed by the task, then I’m here to help. First, not everyone is comfortable reading aloud. Don’t worry, your child is not your second grade teacher, correcting every missed word and embarrassing you in front of the class. Your voice is soothing to them. They LOVE to hear you read, even if it is not your favorite task. Next, while there will be moments when you are snuggled together in a quiet, Norman Rockwell moment of familial bliss it is not a necessity when reading. Finally, and I've said this before, you as the reader should be kind to yourself. Yes, you may need to read a book you hate once a day, but if that is the case, choose other books to read that you love. If you get resistance from your child, see below.
Pushing past resistance, tricks for capturing your child’s interest in reading:
Start without them. Open the book, begin to read as if it is the thing you most want to do in the world. 9 times out of 10, the child will slowly notice that they are missing something interesting going on in the room.
Don’t expect them to sit still. Allow them to wander and play while you read. Most often, they are still listening.
Sneak attacks: One of my daughter’s favorite things is when I give her a “horsey” ride on my back. Well at least once a week that horse takes a little break by the bookshelf and my girl gets the treat of a reading session from her favorite perch. This also works when at parks and playgroups. They are expecting to play, but I bet you would be surprised at how amenable those kids are for a little reading break. Even just a small change of scenery can change your child’s interest level. Lie down on the floor and begin reading. Put a little pillow next to your head and I bet before you know it, the apple of your eye will be looking skyward at that book.
Whatever you do, don’t stop. Children need to be read to even as they begin to read themselves. If you can remove their distractions and find a way through the developmental challenges, then your efforts and creativity will be returned in spades.
|Dad Starts to Read...|
|Child begins to show interest. Dad, unfazed, continues.|
|Engagement! And a happy story time is had by all.|