Lucky that because I don't think I have picked up a nice fiction book for myself to escape in or even read more than 2 pages of since the twins were born! I really miss the joy of opening a new book and I know there are many people across our country that find it hard to even access quality books let alone get an opportunity to read them. It makes me sad to think of adults and especially children not being able to pick up a book to read.
Reading to Toddlers….and having them listen!
My 5 Top tips!
Keep it short!
The toddler attention span only holds for a short space of time so choose books that have simple text and rhyme. Read for short periods of time but often throughout the day. Understand that at this age books will often be repetitive and favourites will need to be read over and over again! Read slowly so your toddler can follow your voice, there won't be many words so you can still keep it short, you don't need to read fast just because they might run off at any moment!
Keep it Engaging
Interactive books are the best way to keep toddlers interested. Use Lift the Flap styles, ask questions about the bright pictures and characters, enjoy books with textures that encourage touching and talking. Ask them to name and describe things they see…just keep them communicating and interacting!
If they really aren't showing an interest in stories then trying using some simple interactive stories and games on the feltboard or hand or finger puppets to add interest to your book..
Use your Voice
Yes I know that sounds simple but how you read using your voice can really make the difference between engaging a toddler in active listening or having them walk off straight away! Choose books that have a rhyme or repetition to them. Make the animal noises, speak differently for the little girl than you do for the Daddy or bear. Use your tone and volume to keep little people interested and following your every word. Let your voice rise and fall in line with the story. Act surprised, ask what they think will happen over the page, sigh, gasp, laugh…do it all. Yes you will look silly but trust me, a toddler doesn't care much!
Work with their developmental stage
Toddlers don't like sitting still….they will for short periods but you really need to keep them engaged during that time. I've often seen educators or parents constantly stopping a story to say ‘sit down'. The rhythm of the story has been lost with all the interruptions. Wouldn't it be better just to keep reading and try to get them to interact with the book as a way to draw them back in? Let them move….the will wiggle, they will rock, they will squirm, they will lie down – It really doesn't matter because you will no doubt find they are still listening. Try a few questions to see if you still have their attention, get them doing some large moves e.g can you jump like the kangaroo in the story? Can you lap milk like the cat? Let them make noise “Can you growl like the tiger in the zoo here” “What is the bear saying to the kids?”
I promise you will be a lot less stressed if you work with them rather than against them!