You open up a book to read to your child and he or she starts wiggling around, closing the book, or runs off to play with a toy. Not what you expected! While we know the many values of reading to our kids and have every intention of exposing them to books often, let's face it. Many kids are movers! Children's bodies need different types of sensory input to help them become ready to learn and pay attention. Here's how you can provide that to your child, and get them actively participating in story time.
Let them turn the pages.
When your child has an active role during story time, he or she is more likely to pay attention. Let your child know when it's time by asking them to turn the page or getting their predicting skills going by saying things like, "Hmm, I wonder what'll happen next..."
Open the flaps.
Little ones love visual surprises like pictures under flaps or in pop-up books. Let him or her open the flap and see what's inside! As an added language bonus, hold it closed and try getting your child to imitate words like "open" before they lift it.
Touch the textures.
Textured books give children tactile stimulation that many of their bodies crave. Your child will stay more engaged when he or she is able to reach and feel the pictures in a story.
Act it out!
Got a mover on your hands? Your child can still get through a book or two! Have him or her act out different parts of the story. Describing actions is an important part of language development, so ask your child to tell you what he or she is doing while acting it out.
Fill in the blank.
A great trick to increasing your child's involvement during book reading is to pause and let them try filling in the blank with the last word in the sentence. This works great for books with repetitive lines. Or for older kids, books with rhyming lines can be perfect. Read the first line, then the second line but pause before saying the last word. That'll get your child's mind going as he or she thinks of a rhyming word that works in that sentence!
Amy Yacoub, MS, CCC-SLP | Speech Pathologist