Do you have a child that simply refuses to sit still for story time? We’ve all heard how important it is for kids to be read aloud to throughout babyhood and childhood so it is understandable to feel stressed out by your anti-book little one (especially for book lover parents!).
I’ve worked with children (of all ages) for over a decade and, in my experience, children fall into two categories: those who love storytime and those who just can’t be bothered to sit still for it. You may think a wiggly child doesn’t enjoy the stories you’re reading but this is not necessarily true. It’s much more likely the problem lies in their ability to sit and focus on a book when the physical world around them is so enticing. And that is perfectly fine! Interacting with the world is much more natural for kids than reading is. Keep in mind human brains were never naturally wired for written language.
A preference for storytime, and the ability to sit and focus on it, are part of a child’s individual personality that you’ll notice early on. I’ve had infants start screaming every time I even glanced at their bookshelf before bedtime. They knew it would mean being forced to sit and listen to words and look at pictures they didn’t care about, as opposed to being put in their crib and allowed to roll and grab and babble to their tiny heart’s content.
But that doesn’t make it less important for these wigglers to be read to. So that means getting creative in your storytime methods. Here are the most helpful tips for dealing with the little people who seem to have little interest in literature:
1. Never Make Reading Negative
This is number one for a reason. While I don’t think many parents strap their child down and force-read to them while they scream and cry, I do personally know parents who have turned storytime into an obstacle for their child to overcome with bribes and compromises. Never create a negative atmosphere around reading time. It’s no different than forcing your children to eat something they hate – they may do it, but it’s only going to make them hate it more. Instead, introduce reading in different ways to find what works best for them.
2. Read In The Bath
If your child enjoys being in the tub, try turning the end of bath time into book time. They can continue to splash and play while you read a story that ends with towel cuddles. This works especially well for kids who never want to get out of the bath; you’ll find them asking for one more story in no time!
3. Let Them Hold Something Interesting
Sometimes all an active child really needs is to be doing something with their hands. Toy cars, play doh, bead trees, or crayons with a doodle pad, are all wonderful options to keep little hands busy while their brains can still focus. Point things out and say “look at that!” or ask them questions every so often to invite them into the story and keep their attention at least mostly on the book.
4. Read During Snack Time
Some people are comfortable doing this during any meal time but, personally, I think meals should be focused around the food and conversation. Snack time is a little different since it’s more casual. Whether they’re in a highchair/booster seat or on a blanket outside for a picnic, this helps them know they’re staying in one place no matter what (like in the tub) and it gives them something to do with their hands as well.
5. Read Books They Like
This might seem obvious, but seek out books about topics they like. And if you can’t find enough then write your own! Or change the words to stories you already have to make them the main character or include things and people they love.
6. Don’t Get Discouraged
Start small. Even if your little one can’t seem to read for more than 60 seconds, make sure those 60 seconds are enjoyable for both of you! And if you can find 10 times throughout the day to get those 60 seconds in, then you’ve already got 10 minutes a day of read-aloud time. It’s something. And something is always better than nothing, right?
Parents of wiggly readers: please share your tips!
YouTube Channel: Cassie Stephens
Featured image via Donnie Ray Jones