About two months ago, my daughter Charlotte came to me with a book in her hand. She handed it to me, then held open her arms for me to pluck her up on my lap. And then she began to flip the pages and listen as I read her a story.
It was the very first time that story-time in our home just CLICKED.
I receive a few e-mails a week from people who have questions about reading to their children. Their baby is trying to eat the books! Their toddler is ripping apart the pages! How do they stop their kid from flipping the pages at lightning speed? How do they convince them to sit still during reading time instead of running around like a loon?
They appeal to me, they tell me, because they’ve seen the photographs of us reading with Charlotte. And it looks like we know what we’re doing.
I tell them all the same thing: we don’t.
Some days, my daughter tries to eat the books. Some days, she rips out pages. Some days, she flips the pages at lightning speed and runs around like a loon while I read passages out loud from books I’m reading. At fourteen months, Charlotte has heard just as many excerpts from Michael Crichton as she has from Mem Fox. Some days, she screams during story-time. Some days, she walks over a pile of books or bends back the spines. Or throws them off the shelf.
Most days, she wants me to read the same book fifteen times over. And then fifteen times over again. And maybe again while we’re at it.
The truth is that reading to your young child is like any other part of parenting: an evolution. There is no one-size-fits-all cure for the kid who loses interest after two pages, there is only patiently enduring your baby’s reading-related phases and keeping your fingers crossed that they will come out on the other end loving books. The key is to listen to them, watch their cues, follow their lead, and just keep trying. Keep visiting the library. Keep talking about books. KEEP READING.
If you do, one day you’ll look up to see your child climbing into your lap, eager to share a story together. And it will make your heart sing.
What do you do to keep your child(ren) interested in reading?