In honor of Read Aloud Month, we will be doing a series of posts on storytelling, reading aloud to your child, and sharpening your child’s narrative skills. Today, we will be discussing how to read with a wiggly child.
Picture this: A six-month old sits quietly in the arms of her father while he reads her favorite picture book, Night, Night Little Pookie by Sandra Boynton. She reaches her fingers to touch the colorful illustrations. She helps turn the pages. She is attentive. She can’t wait to see what happens next.
Now picture this: A six-month old wiggles restlessly in the arms of his father while he attempts to read a book. He cries as dad tries to read the rhymes and turn the pages. He won’t sit still. Reading to a young infant, toddler, preschooler, or high schooler can be quite the task.
Sometimes you might experience the child who loves to sit quietly and listen to you read. Other times it may feel like you are reading to yourself.
Children, no matter what their age, are wiggly. And that’s okay. While there is no fool-proof way to keep your child sitting in your arms patiently while you read, here are some tips you can follow.
1. Read age appropriate books. While you may love The Polar Express, your two-year-old probably won’t appreciate it quite as much. Wait until they are in school before attempting a book of this length or stick to just talking about the pictures. Dr. Seuss is a great author…but wait until preschool. Babies and toddlers should experience books with colorful pages, simple illustrations, and basic vocabulary and rhymes.
2. Create a routine. Read at the same time every day whether it’s bed time, bath time, or playtime.
3. Change the sound of your voice as you read. This doesn’t mean you have to practice new voices, it just means reading with inflection. Read with a whisper. Read with a loud voice. Read with a silly voice.
4. Read while you are sitting in a waiting room or standing in line. Always have a book with you. Or point to the words around you and read them aloud.
5. Don’t worry if your child isn’t sitting with you for the whole book. If you have a toddler and she loses interest, let her. You can keep reading–chances are she is still listening. Or set the book down and try again a little later or the next day. The most important tip we can share is to make sure reading is a positive experience. We never want children to feel frustrated or upset that it’s time to read.