Sunday, June 29, 2014

Read Your Toddler Books All Day - Even If You Never Finish One

Yes, everyone knows you should read aloud to your child.  It's common wisdom - read a book at bedtime, instill a love of reading.  But is that really enough?  I don't think so.  Instead, find those quick opportunities for all-day reading.

Image courtesy of 
AKARAKINGDOMS / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Here's the problem with reading to a toddler at night: bedtime is a stressful time.  You're trying to get teeth brushed, a child settled, and everyone quiet.  Then you throw a book into the mix.  Maybe this works well for children after age three or four, but what about toddlers?  I know my little guy will do anything to stay awake - focusing on those dim pages lit by a desk lamp comes in a very distant second to running for the toy box.

This is why I recommend reading all day.  Not that you're saying "okay, child, now we read!  And again!!"  Instead, look for any spare moment.  Right after breakfast works well for my son - right after he's eaten and pooped and had a diaper change (TMI, I know...), he's generally pretty calm.  It isn't nap time and he won't be hungry again for another hour, so I tell him to go grab a book.  It helps now that he's old enough to understand and walk over to the bookshelf and pick on out himself, but I started this back when he was still learning to crawl.  Basically, I was so tired one day that I just didn't have the energy to chase him around after breakfast - so I reached for a book, set the little guy on my lap, and got in a solid ten minutes of him slapping at the pages while I read off the words on the page.

It only lasted maybe ten minutes.  And I know that doesn't seem like much - but how much time does anyone get at bedtime?  So I try to get in those ten minutes at least three or four times a day.  Which is good, because sometimes there isn't a book at bedtime.  Drives my wife nuts that I'll put him to bed without reading to him first, but I'm not going to keep him awake if he nods off in those thirty seconds between drinking his milk and brushing his sharp little teeth.  But I think it's okay.  I usually get in a book right after his dinner.  And after lunch.  Or just whenever there's a spare moment where he's energetic and fed and doesn't need a new diaper yet.  He's used to it, now - any time of day, I might say "okay, let's read a book!  Go get a book!" and off he'll go to his little cubby of books.  Sometimes he'll spend ten minutes ferrying over books - three or four or even five books - before he decides which one we'll read.  And we never quite get through one.  But that's okay - it's more important that you engage your little one in the reading.

Also, you may like my short list of recommended books for small children.



No comments: