“He just wants to flip through the pages.”
“I try, but I can’t get her to sit still for more than a few minutes!”
“He look at books by himself, but won’t let me read to him.”
I hear these comments from parents a lot when I ask how their child does with book reading at home. We know that reading from a young age has countless benefits, including improving a child’s vocabulary, comprehension skills, and later reading and writing skills. But what do you do if you have an especially active child who has a hard time getting through a book with you?
Besides the benefits of reading, here are some tips for exposing your active child to books in a positive way that still promotes bonding between the two of you.
Timing is Key
Read to your child during a time when he or she is naturally more calm or likely to stay put. Of course bedtime or before a nap may be a good time, but there are other options as well. Like while your child taking a bath or during mealtime.
Children who are more active may be seeking sensory stimulation. Give them this input in different ways other than moving their body. Books that have different textures for children to feel are great for this. You can also look for books that actively involve children in other ways, for example lifting flaps.
Start off by encouraging your child to sit for just a few minutes and look at a book with you. Even if that means him or her flipping through the pages, or the two of you commenting on the pictures rather than reading the printed words. Try slowly increasing the amount of time the two of you read together.
Children can be more cooperative when they feel like they have a choice and aren’t having too many demands put on them. Give your child lots of choices when it comes to story time. Ask questions like, “Where do you want to read tonight?”, “Which book should we read?”, or “Do you want to read with mommy or daddy?”. Keep reading a fun and positive experience by reducing the number of questions you ask or directions you give. Instead of asking, “Where is the dog?”, model how you comment on what’s in the book, like by saying “I see a big dog there!”.
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