Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tips for reading aloud to toddlers

As I was reading to the boys this morning, I thought of how there are a few things I've learned that greatly increase the longevity of our story times together.  I start reading to my children at a very young age, just because that's something that happens so much at our house, but inevitably they reach a wiggly stage where they go boneless and slide off your lap and run off to wreak havoc elsewhere.  And I was thinking about that when I realized that we'd been reading for almost 45 minutes and Luke was still firmly planted in my lap, barking at all of the pictures.

So here are my tips:

1) Read during snacktime.  A younger child is much more likely to stay put when they are occupied with eating, and in my experience, they stay longer and longer post-snack out of habit.  Plus, a toddler can take an insanely long time to eat, and this capitalizes on that fact! (I know some people are very adamant about no food out of the kitchen, and I probably would be more concerned if I wasn't planning to replace my carpet, but my philosophy on this is that you can vacuum afterwards, and it's worth it to me.  I do have a no-food policy at other times.)

2) Sit on the floor.  I gradually gravitate back toward the couch as the kids get older, but with a toddler, I've found that sitting on the floor works best because they can easily get off your lap and then come right back when they're ready.  Often I will read aloud to older children and the toddler sits by us playing and comes back to my lap every couple of minutes.

3) Read books that YOU like to read.  Don't torture yourself!  I love reading aloud to my children because I love the books that we're reading.  For a few years I felt guilty about my no-Disney policy, or my only-one-Berenstein-Bears/Curious-George-per-day rule, but reading is just so much more fun and enjoyable and something I really look forward to when it's books that I adore, and when they grow to love the books that are worth loving.  And on this note, I absolutely am an advocate of investing in books.  We have hundreds of children's books, and it's been worth every penny.  Yes, they're expensive if you buy them all brand-new at your local Barnes & Noble, but much less so if you shop Amazon Marketplace, your local library booksales, thrift stores, etc.  Purchasing classics from my childhood that I know my children will absolutely love is something that brings a ridiculously cheesy smile to my face.

Your thoughts?

photo by Kim Davis Photography


Kayli said...

I've had a month or two of throw-caution-and-the-budget-to-the-wind buying of Christmas books. I had almost none, and decided this year to try a few out. Then a few more. Then a few more. :) But I will wrap them all up and we will choose one for the first many nights in December. It's soooooo exciting to me!

Also exciting was when I was in Arizona for my sister's wedding and I demanded to be taken to Goodwill where I bought a ton of books in ENGLISH to bring home. Not only was I lucky to find serious good-quality classics, such as Ferdinand, What Do You Say Dear, Dandelion, and others, it was also their 50% off day!!

When we come back to the U.S. next summer I will DEFINITELY be going through our boxes of books and bringing back my favorites.

Books are sooooo GREAT!

Elise said...

those are some good ideas that i wouldn't have thought of

Meghan said...

Voices! I found I had a much longer tolerance level if I amused myself with accents for all the characters.

Rosalind said...

Good advice! ...I'm putting that on my list of things-to-remember-4-years-from now. ...and I have to admit, I have given into temptation every now and then to buy some of my favorites...bearskin, the paper bag princes, gift of the magi, rikki tikki tavi. I'm a bit of a book hoarder--being able to get them at the library is fine for some, but I have to have to have my favorites.

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