If you are having trouble getting your toddler to let you read to him, you should know that there are several tips you can try! Toddlers are naturally busy and might have a hard time being still for storytime. However, these 17 tips can help, so you can read a story and share a special moment. Keep in mind that you may want to try more than one tip at a time to get the best results!
1. Find the Right Spot
Before you and your toddler can settle in together to read a book, it is important to take the time to find the perfect spot for this to happen. Choose a spot that is away from distractions such as toys, older siblings, or the television. You want your toddler’s focus to be on the book. Try to minimize distractions as well. It’s a good idea to turn off your cell phone while you read with your toddler as well. Look for a cozy, comfortable spot in which you and your toddler have plenty of space to relax and enjoy the book. You can make the spot special and soft with pillows and blankets. Don’t forget that the reading spot you choose should be well lit, so you and your toddler can see the words and the pictures in the story.
2. Let the Toddler Choose
While you may have a particular book in mind that you want to read with your toddler, you may want to let your toddler choose the book. This gives the child a sense of control over storytime and ensures that you are reading a story the child wants to hear. Don’t limit your child’s choices when it comes to reading materials. Some kids are attracted to the bright colors of a particular book, while others are attracted to the pictures of the characters in the book. Let your child have the freedom to choose what is appealing to him.
3. Give Some Control
Another idea is to give your toddler some control by allowing him to hold the book. You can even let your little one turn the pages when you are ready. For example, tell your child that you will make a beeping sound at the end of the page, so your toddler will have to pay attention to the story and listen for the beep to know when to turn the page. This gives your toddler something to listen for and do to be an active participant in the reading process.
4. Read the Pictures
While you are reading the story to your toddler, you can ask your toddler to read the pictures to you. After you finish reading a page, let your toddler explain what is happening in the pictures on the page. Your toddler can summarize the story, talk about what the characters are doing in the picture, or even identify colors he knows. Give your toddler as much time as he needs to discuss the pictures, so he feels like he is an important part of the reading process.
5. Act It Out
If your little one won’t stay still so you can read to him, one trick to try is to stop after each page or two and ask your little one to act out what happened in the story. This gives your child a chance to get up and be active for a minute while getting rid of some of his excess energy. This is a great learning opportunity because your child has to listen to the story and comprehend the story to be able to act out the plot. You may even want to get in on the action and act it out with your child. Wearing costumes can make this even more fun!
6. Schedule a Time
You can create a storytime schedule for each day of the week, so your child knows when this special time will occur. It is important to be consistent with storytime. For example, you might want to read your child a story every night before bedtime, or you may want to hold a story hour before your child takes a nap each day. Your toddler may be a more willing participant if he knows to expect storytime at the same hour every day.
7. Hold a Friend
If your toddler likes to fidget instead of listening to the story, you may want to consider letting him hold a stuffed animal friend during the story. Toddlers who tend to fidget a lot might find it easier to concentrate on the story if they are holding something in their hands or rubbing the fur on the stuffed animal. You can pretend the stuffed animal is a good listener, too.
8. Get Technical
If traditional books are not holding your child’s interests, another great idea is to read online children’s books together. This can be done on a tablet, cell phone, computer screen, or even a laptop. Some toddlers simply like the idea of reading a book on a screen and maybe more captivated by the online visuals. Some online children’s books even have audio, so you and your little one can listen to the books in a different voice. The volume can then be adjusted to help your toddler hear better.
9. Try Different Voices
Some toddlers need to be entertained while they are listening to the story. If your little one seems to get bored easily, you may try reading using different voices to keep your child amused during storytime. For example, you might read a story about a scary bear using a deep, gruff voice, or you might read a story about a beautiful princess in a high, shrill voice. You just might find that your toddler finds it very funny, so he will sit still and be an active listener to the story. Your little one might just ask you to keep reading even more or not want you to stop reading.
10. Judge a Book by Its Cover
The first tip on our list is simple, lure the curiosity of your child into reading by showing them the front cover of the book. Chances are, your child will be enticed to sit down and learn what is inside the book. Once your child is drawn in by the illustrations on the front cover, they will surely want to read it. Engage your child’s interest by asking them questions about the cover. Following our tip can lead to bonding moments and finding out more peak interests of your toddler.
Teaching your child phonics will develop their connection between letters they see and the sounds they make.
11. Test Your Child’s Progress
The second tip can be a little harder to achieve, but it may be the key to finishing a whole story together. You must test your child’s progress in their understanding of skills and attention. To test it, watch carefully when your child gets distracted and stops reading. Ask them a few simple questions about the book.
You can ask your child something like “What is it?” while pointing to a picture in the book. Tip number 2 will help your child stay engaged and build their attention span. You can also test the predictive skills of your child by asking them what they think will happen next. Kids are easily distracted, and building on their interests can be a great way to stay focused.
Reading with your child every day will improve bonding and build an environment for growth and learning.
12. Make Flashcards at Home
You can make simple flashcards with three-letter words on each one, and ask your child to choose a card. On the other side of the card will be a picture of the word. For example, the front may say dog, and on the back will be a picture of a dog.
Working with them to spell the three sounds they hear in each word will slowly build their reading vocabulary. Say the word over and over again, while pausing after each sound the mouth makes. Tip 3 takes time, but it is surely the best way to teach your child about reading in-depth.
Books with pictures of animals invite children to mimic and move similarly, which builds their skills of expression and communication.
13. Make Reading Engaging
You must be engaging with your child while reading and make it interesting enough to follow along. Children do not want to listen to a boring monotone voice reading to them. Instead, imagine a fantastic show which brings the story to life.
Children must learn to differentiate from characters in the story, and that’s where the play of voice acting is important. When different characters are shown speaking in the story, Make a playful and uncharacteristic voice with a great personality.
Children who read at home are more likely to grow up with a love and curiosity for reading.
14. Special Teaching Moments
You can take time to learn your child’s acquired skills and reading level by stopping ever so often to test their knowledge. When a difficult word comes up, which your child doesn’t understand, take a moment to link the word to clues in the pictures. Constantly ask questions to keep them interested, while also focusing on their speaking and pronunciation.
15. Play Phonics Games at Home
Several simple word games will help build your child’s listening skills while focusing on their pronunciation. You can ask them simple questions, for example, “What sound does cat start with? What sound does log end with? What word rhymes with the sun?” Asking these questions will work several levels of your toddler’s cognitive skills. Learning to read can be difficult, and your goal should be to make everything fun when it comes to reading.
16. Seek Feedback
Once the story is finished, take some time to ask questions to your child about the story. Ask them what they think about it, and their opinion on certain aspects of the book.
Ask your child what they liked or disliked about the story, while also telling them what you think. Following tip seven will lead you and your child to a bonding relationship. Asking questions will help your child gain the confidence to express their preference.
Asking questions will improve your child’s oral fluency and encourage them to form opinions.
17. Learn Rhymes and Sing Songs
Sing together with them at different times during the day. If you find rhymes and songs in picture books, it will always keep your child coming back to the same books for those special songs and rhymes. When your toddler is familiar with the pattern of the rhyme, you can test them by making mistakes on purpose and see if they catch your error.
All in all, there are dozens of ways for you to entertain and help your child to read. Following the eight tips listed, you will be sure to develop a powerful bond between you and your toddler when it comes to bedtime stories and phonics education. Remember to engage your toddler by using exaggerated and characterized voices. Don’t be overwhelmed if your toddler still does not enjoy reading; this may be a learning moment for both of you. Keep reading short, and don’t take such a long time, or your child may not enjoy reading.