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How to encourage interest in reading or books?

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This topic contains 11 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Amy Amy 6 years, 1 month ago.

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    My toddler is NOT interested in books. He’d much rather run around, play with toys, etc. than sit down with me or my wife and listen to a story. He’s still young, so I’m not too concerned…but is there any way I can encourage an interest in literacy at this early age? Any tricks of the trade? Literacy is important to our family, and I don’t want to "miss the boat" for any early opportunities to make reading a habbit.

    Profile photo of Amy

    I wouldn’t worry much about your toddlers disinterest in books at this point. Sounds like you already have the foundation of developing an interest in literacy which is your own commitment to it.

    Have you tried books that are interactive? As a toddler my daughter love to dance around to "Barnyard Dance" and "Pajama Time" by Susan Boynton. You could also act out popular children’s classics such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears or The Three Little Pigs.

    We also made sure to incorporate a story into her bedtime routine and made it clear when she wanted to run around that it was time to settle down and listen quietly. On nights that didn’t work so well we used books that had lullaby CD’s with them and would flip through the book as the song was being sung.


    Making reading a more interactive process really can help – especially for little ones who don’t really want to sit still! Do different voices while reading, make sure to ask you child questions during the story, or find stories with parts that you can act out. It can be more fun for you as a reader this way, too!


    We used the books by Sandra Boynton when my son was a toddler and we used to sing them – particulary Pajama Time.  I think if you make it part of a routine at night, your toddler will come to enjoy it.


    If you find a book about your child’s favorite character or subject and start by showing him or her the pictures , perhaps he or she will want to listen while you read the story to him.  Also, I found that when my children were small, when they saw me or their dad reading a book, they found a book and sat down and looked at the book with us. As the child gets older, he will want to read books with you but for now , he will probably be happy running and playing.

    Also, singing nursery rhymes and showing pictures of the songs is a fun activity.


    Thanks, all! These are great suggestions. We’ll keep trying. Hopefully he’ll be requesting Shakespeare, or at least some Dr. Seuss, soon!


    The energy you put into reading the book will effect your child’s willingness to pause long enough to listen to it.  Many parents and teachers don’t realize how boring their reading style is, even if they are doing a few voices or emotions.  I have taught a few workshops where I had parents (who thought they were good story tellers) read a book and then I read the same book and the difference is obvious.  You have to use voices and emotion and body language and show wonder at the things that are happening to the point that it feels like you should be charging admission.  Some of our classrooms have children "who won’t sit still for a single story" and I can walk in and read 5 books in a row and they cry when I am done.  It is a hard skill to get good at, but the more you practice the easier it gets and soon you will be posting about how to get your child to stop pestering you about reading a book.


    I wouldn’t stress too much, he is young. I think that having books available that include topics that appeal to him might encourage him to stop and look at them once in a while. Also, I personally feel it is important for kids to see adults reading and enjoying books. This shows children that reading can be fun.


    A trick I’ve used is to arrange an audience of stuffed animals around me and read to them. It catches my son’s interest and he wants to come over and see what is going on. It can take several tries over the course of a day (or week) to get him to sit long enough to listen to the whole thing, but I think what is happening is that he is becomeing familiar with the cadence of the story or rhyme. Once it seems familiar, he isn’t as resistant.

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    Profile photo of Candi Walz
    Candi Walz

    Start by teaching letters and sounds.  You can also try these ideas:  Enjoy and best of luck!

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