So hopefully, at some point you have built story time into your day or into your nighttime routine. If not, you can start at anytime. It felt really weird reading to my infants who couldn’t even keep their head up (why in the world would they have interest in a book that they can’t see, hear, understand?!?) But not long after that, they were looking at the pictures, and then right after that they were pointing and now they can talk for hours about each book that we read!
So- here are my top 5 tips for reading bedtime stories to toddlers:
1) Routine- Read in the same place whether it be a bed, chair, couch or book nook. Also do the same thing before and after the book. We would put on pajamas, brush teeth, read our book and then go to bed. When we would be out traveling (or in our car, or on a plane) we would follow that same routine and the boys would go right to sleep no matter where we were since we had a nice routine.
2) Be OK with the same book every night for the next three years. Not only do kids love repetition but it is imperative for their learning. They build relationships with their books and reading through repetition. They also learn about sounds, letters, reading, rhymes and rhythm when you read the same book over and over and over and over and over.
3) Snuggle – Be comfortable. If your reading space isn’t comfortable and cozy then find some pillows or a place that you really look forward to every night. If you are reading in bed and it causes you to strain your neck, then get more head support or move to a seated reading space. If you really look forward to reading each night, then undoubtedly your kids will too.
4) Be silly– Have voices, read fast, then slow, loud then quiet. Give the story life!
5) Extend the story – Maybe just read a couple of pages and then be open to talking about anything or everything. If they start talking, don’t shush them, follow their lead. The goal of story time isn’t necessarily finishing the book, but it is connecting, talking, learning more about each other and the world. The story might be about a fish going to bed and all they want to talk about are the colors of the fish, then talk about the colors. There will be a million other nights to read about the fish’s story- let tonight be about the colors.
Enjoy reading with your kids- one of life’s simplest joys.