I’m a former children’s librarian and a lifelong reader, so of course books, especially books for children, are very important to me.
I feel like there is no end to the instructions to read to your child from the moment they are born (or even BEFORE they are born), but that can seem overwhelming when you’re confronted with a baby who squirms in your lap or tries to rip or eat the pages.
Here are 13 ways I try to make reading a pleasant and positive experience with my 11-month-old (and that I used with my now-3-year-old) to help her develop a love of reading:
1) Lay on the floor
When my babies are really little and aren’t stable enough to sit on my lap while I hold a book, I like to lay next to them on the floor. Both of my girls have been entranced with the pages above them (this also lets me know that my arms are very weak because I can only read about 3 books before they are killing me).
2) Don't worry about finishing the book
If my daughter loses interest in a book, I’m more than happy to just give it up. We try again with a new, better book. I care more about them enjoying reading than finishing a specific book.
3) Let them turn the pages
It’s hard for me to let go and allow my girls to turn the pages (especially when they flip the pages before I’m done reading), but they love to be involved.
4) Read aloud while they crawl around
If my girls are too restless to sit on my lap, I like to read aloud to them while they crawl or wander around (or even color!). Listening to books is a great skill to help them develop.
5) Read a combination of beloved books and new books
My children, like I think most children, love reading their favorites over and over again. I reread those books often and also check out lots of new books at the library to switch things up and help them learn to love even more books.
6) Try audiobooks
I check out audiobooks from the library or download them onto my phone and play them in the car while we run errands.
7) Read when they are happy and content
When my children are grumpy and frustrated, I find that trying to read to them just makes things worse when they are very small. Wait until everyone is in a pleasant mood.
8) Make books accessible
I keep all our library books in a basket on the floor so that my girls can pull them out at will (if your baby is a page-ripper, you might want to keep the board books accessible and put the paper ones higher up until they are a bit older).
9) Visit the library (and attend storytime)
Seeing other kids of all ages enjoying books and listening to someone else read (especially someone who knows a lot about children and reading) can be hugely influential. My girls LOVE storytime.
10) Model reading for them
I like to let my child see, from the very beginning, that reading is an enjoyable part of my life. I try to spend at least ten minutes reading on the couch while they play nearby each day.
11) Let them pick their own books
Since I read a ton of book reviews, it’s hard for me to want to read books just randomly pulled from the shelves, but my girls love picking their own books and occasionally we stumble on a gem.
12) Take your books somewhere new
Sometimes, my children aren’t interested in reading inside, but if we go to the park and take some books along or read during a meal, it’s suddenly new and exciting again.
13) Make it fun
I try never to make reading stressful or feel forced. If a day or two goes by without reading books, that’s just fine with me. My goal is to keep it pleasant, light, and enjoyable.
P.S. Do you have any secrets to helping your child love books? I’d love to hear!