As parents, we all know even a one-year-old understands that your cell phone is something special. It’s crazy how they are drawn to it like a magnet. We obviously want to limit their screen time. But we need to understand that our tech-driven world also offers many benefits for children.
For some families, the cost of a private tutor may not be feasible. In this case, the internet can offer them their own personal online teacher. And there are Virtual field trips for kids, an excellent way for them to go on a cultural tour to visit places near and far. Perhaps they can watch an archeology dig or a farm animal being born in real time. Our new reality is driven by technology. And under the proper parental supervision, all is not terrible in the world of smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
But what many might consider terrible in our world today, is the fact that the art of storytelling and reading books to children has been neglected. I still remember going up the escalator, holding the hands of my sons as we headed to the children’s book department at our local Barnes and Noble. I would sit back, watch them explore the world of books, and observe the excitement in their eyes as they turned the pages. Then, they would want me to buy their favorite to take home. Without that tactile experience, looking through books on a computer is not the same.
Even before the pandemic, a trip to the neighborhood library was off the radar of many parents. In addition to writing personalized fairy tales for the little ones, I teach pre-school. One of the activities I do every year with my little 2- and 3-year-old friends, is a library theme week. We talk about how a book is very special. We have them decorate their own canvas book bag. We make it possible for each of the children to receive their very own personal library card. The kids love it!
Now you might be asking yourself, “How do I make reading to my toddler fun?” Let me help you answer that question!
- FIND A SUBJECT THAT YOUR CHILD IS INTERESTED IN
Adults and children in this area are the same. Only things we like hold our interest. So, if your little princess is really into soccer these days a book about dance will probably not get her engaged in wanting to read. There are a lot of great books for toddlers on the market.
2. FIND AN AGE-APPROPRIATE BOOK
I’m a parent, grandparent, and educator. That makes me very conscious of the fact that not every child reads at the same level as others their age. If your child has started reading, you want to help them build confidence. So, pick a few easy books, but ones that still challenge them a bit. When looking for baby books and books for toddlers in your life, go for books with big pictures and sound effects. They are a great way to introduce books into their world that hold their attention.
3. DEVELOP A READING HABIT
Pick a time of day when your little prince or princess isn’t too tired or hungry to concentrate. Young children like daily routines. This is why bedtime story rituals work so well. They’re expecting a story after they get their pajamas on. And they know they must stay in bed and go to sleep afterward (fingers crossed, lol). So, by making reading part of their day, it will be something they begin to enjoy and look forward to on a regular basis. At the beginning of the year in my classroom, we have our little ones get a book from the room library after their snack. It’s true that if you walked into our room at the start of the school year, you’d hear me say over and over again, “Now go get a book and sit down at your name spot.” But after a couple of months, it is absolutely adorable how they just do it without hesitation.
4. READ WITH A LOT OF ANIMATION IN YOUR VOICE
Think about how boring it is when you listen to a speech delivered in a very dull monotone voice. That’s exactly how your little one hears your voice when listening to a story if there is no enthusiasm. One of my favorite books to read aloud in my class is “Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons”. I make a big deal about the word POP as I’m reading the story. The kids laugh and cannot wait for me to say it.
We don’t need to throw out our phones, TVs, or computers. We just need to put those screens down for a bit, grab a couple of great kids’ books, sit with our children, and read to them.