All those adorable books just sitting on the shelf! All the lovable characters you want your toddler to meet. And all the adventures to experience! As a mom you’re yearning to enjoy the playful rhythm and rhyme and discover new details in every delightful illustration. But your little one will barely sit still long enough to open the first page!
We get it. And we’d like to help. Here are 6 easy tips to make book reading a fun and engaging experience for you and your little love.
So you get all ready on a cozy couch, pull your child up on your lap and open the book, right? Wrong! While this seems like the most natural posture, it’s best to be facing your child while reading a book. This can be done lying on the floor on your bellies, facing each other. Or you can place your child on the couch while you sit on the floor facing them—or you can even prop them up on your knees facing you. This way your child can watch you as well as the pages in the book, because watching your mouth and facial expressions is just as fun!
2. STOP “READING” ALL THE WORDS
Give yourself a break! You don’t have to read through the entire book, hoping they’ll keep still. In the beginning, simply highlight a few key words as you look at the picture together. A simple sentence is all they need. POINT to the object that you’re talking about. Soon they’ll engage and point to things too! What a great way to build object recognition and vocabulary.
3. FUN SOUNDS
Children LOVE fun, silly sounds, especially when they come from mama! Watching you add silly facial expressions and gestures is such a delight! So get into it, and be ready to wear all different hats as you read: Choo-chooo! Beep-beep! Boom! Kerplunk! Swishhh! Have fun with it—you can be sure your baby will too!
4. PRETEND PLAY WITH THE BOOK
Bring the pictures to life! You become the big burrowing bear, or the frightful lion with arms in the air, booming out a great big ROAR! Or maybe you’re a little fairy drinking a tiny cup of chamomile tea—“Sip, sip, Mmmm…so good!” (in your tiny little voice, and pinky up, of course). And pretend eating is always fun—you eat first—nom, nom, nom and then have your toddler pretend to eat too. Maybe she’ll even feed you!
5. LET THEM TURN THE PAGE OR LIFT THE FLAP
“Hands-on” or interactive reading is a great motivator for those kids who need to be doing something. Try this out with a flap book and let your child be the one to open the flap. We just LOVE the charming little book Where’s Spot? It’s perfect for little ones who can’t sit still for long.
We can’t stress this enough—it is SO important! Even if it’s the same word or phrase throughout a book, like Brown Bear, soon your little one will OWN it! Repeating the same words over and over (and over) again will help them remember. It’s fun to pause before the repeated phrase and let your toddler belt it out! You might want to try repeating the words from a book throughout the day too, and even make a game of it. That book is sure to become a favorite!
To learn simple and effective strategies to help get your little one talking, check out our Talk on Track (newborn-14 months) and Time to Talk: Toddler Course (15-36 months). We’d love to equip you to experience the joy of your little one talking to you!