Tess, also the mother of a squirmy & active & opinionated toddler, recently asked me how we’ve helped to foster Natalie’s love of “reading.” If you haven’t already seen my (probably most favorite ever!) video of Natalie flipping through a couple of her books, here’s a treat for you.
I think Natals loves reading because we’ve made it such a big part of her routine from her very first night home from the hospital. We have definitely gone through periods where she seems less interested in her books, but overall reading time is pretty near the top of her list of Favorite Times Ever. Some reasons why (I think), include:
* We always say yes to books. This is the one thing we totally bend on, even at bedtime or when we’re rushing out the door. We just can’t say no when she asks for us to read with her. I think she knows that it’s something she can use as a way to have quite a bit of control, and likes that it’s a guaranteed “yes” when she asks.
* Reading time is snuggly time. Natalie has never been really into cuddling (as she’s gotten older, she’s become more of a cuddlebug, thank goodness)–she’s more into running and dancing and pushing us away when we try to smooch her cheeks too much. I think her time reading in our laps fulfills her snuggle quota in a way that doesn’t feel overwhelming to her. We can sit close and breathe each other in, but we’re not smothering her or forcing her into big hugs.
* We let her turn the pages and “read” at her own pace. It can be frustrating to watch a kid speed read through pages, but I try to remind myself that I’m not really reading with her so she can get into the story at this point. It’s more about the quality time we have together, and helping her to view reading as a fun time. Our friend Erin had the great suggestion of letting kids flip through books that you already know really well, and then you can probably say the lines from memory whether they are on the right page or not. It gives the kid some control, but they’re also getting the rhyme-y sequence of the narrative.
* We’ve stopped offering reading as a choice against other options like TV or Legos or tea parties. If we say “Do you want to read Elmo or watch Gabba?” we pretty much know she’s going to pick the TV show. Instead, we try to just offer her the choice of two or three books (“Do you want to read That’s Not My Lion or Salamander Rock?”), and usually it doesn’t take much convincing to get her to pick one of our options. Inevitably, there are times when she will refuse to cooperate with a quiet activity like reading, although around 20 months we felt like we started to have an easier time “convincing” her to settle down into quiet time. If she’s not in the mood for a book, we try to move on to another equally low-energy activity like playing with stickers.
What other things have helped your children like reading?