If only us grown-ups could borrow some of the boundless energy that preschoolers possess! Studies show that the years between ages zero and five are crucial for brain development, and reading together is an important part of developing language, literacy, and social-emotional skills.
But what can you do when your child won’t sit still for a book? If your preschooler would rather run laps in the living room or build with Legos than pause for a story, fear not – this is very normal, and it doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy books. Here are some tips to try:
- Experiment with different settings and times of day: Reading before bedtime doesn’t work for everyone! First thing in the morning, might work better for your child. Try reading together during meal or snack times, or reading to your child while they’re in the bath (be careful with library books!). Take some books to the park and read together after your child has had plenty of time to run around.
- Be flexible: Maybe your child can’t make it through a whole book in one sitting – that’s okay! Read a few pages together at a time and don’t force the experience. Let them flip the pages or cycle through lots of books if they’re only want to look at the pictures. You want your child to associate reading with fun, not forced attention. Longer reading sessions will come if you keep it up!
- Find books that capture their interest: Easier said than done, and it can take some experimenting, but even the bounciest little kids will focus on a topic they’re really interested in! If you can’t find picture books featuring their favorite subjects or characters, try nonfiction. Many preschoolers love books on trains, ocean animals, castles, dinosaurs, and plenty of other topics. A favorite character or type of character, like Spider-Man or mermaids, can also motivate their interest.
- Move with your books: No one ever said reading had to be sedentary! There are lots of picture books which encourage movement and play. Here are a few staff favorites:
- Is Everyone Ready For Fun? by Jan Thomas (really, anything by Thomas is great for this)
- From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
- Wiggle! by Doreen Cronin
- We’re Going On a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxbury
- Dancing Feet by Lindsey Craig
A reading habit can be developed in even the busiest and most energetic children, and your efforts will benefit them for years to come. The wiggly stage doesn’t last forever, but their memories of reading together with you can. Happy reading!