Saturday, September 10, 2011

365 Days of Reading: Tip #13 - The Wiggly Worms

Moms of boys (or any toddler, really) sometimes wonder, "How can I get him to sit still while I read to him?"

My answer: You don't, and you don't need to, in order to still raise a good reader.

Your child will develop reading stamina over time, so think of learning to read as a marathon (never a sprint!). Just because little Johnny is too wriggly for War & Peace now doesn't mean that he'll be a struggling reader once he reaches grade school. And conversely, just because little Sally recognizes letters of the alphabet at age 1 doesn't mean she'll enter Harvard at age 12. It's a marathon, so relax & enjoy the scenery.

Now for some tips that WILL help you build reading stamina in a very young child:

1. Choose books that are interactive (see my post on multisensory books, Tip #10). Books that have flaps to lift or buttons to press are engaging to kinesthetically inclined boys & toddlers.

2. Ask or allow your child to turn the pages as you read. Pause at the end of each spread and see if he figures out that it's time to turn the page. If not, you can prompt him with a simple phrase like, "Want to turn?"

3. Read a book to him while he moves. Who says you have to sit still to listen to a story? While he builds a tower of blocks or pushes his favorite toy car around the floor, read him a story. Pause after each spread to show him the pictures, but if he doesn't look your way, don't stress it. Just keep reading - he loves your voice anyway!

4. Choose non-story books that have lots of interesting, labeled pictures (see an example below). On each spread, ask him to point to different items that you name. Teach him new ones each time you read the book.

5. Tell or recite stories in the car or while you are out for a walk. My son's face lights up when I recite a few lines from a favorite book that relates to something we are doing. For example, when we go outside to run around, I might say, "City Dog didn't stop to admire the green, green grass - he ran straight for Country Frog's rock!" (from City Dog, Country Frog).

6. Read to your child during bath time and meal time. Waterproof (and therefore milk-proof and juice-proof) bath books are great for these readings.

7. Choose nonfiction books that relate to his current interests. Right now, our shelf is full of books about trains.

8. Avoid relegating reading time to ONLY quiet times of the day (see Tip #9). All times are reading times! Make sure his books are displayed in an open area, with covers facing outward, so that he has constant access to his choice of literature. Rotate the books on display there to maintain high interest.

9. Read books that are connected to recent outings. If you visit a museum, read a book that features a museum or some artwork. If you go to the grocery store, read an alphabet book that includes foods. If you visit a local organic get the picture.

10. I'll say it again - environmental print (see Tip #8).

Soon enough your wriggly toddler will be a sullen teenager and you'll be wishing you could get him to budge off the couch, so enjoy this time of high energy & take your reading on the go!

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