Here’s how to increase your small children’s reading stamina little by little. Of course, your small children can’t actually read alone, but working on building their reading comprehension stamina now sets them up for success!
I come from a family of readers and educators. My husband comes from a family of readers as well. We both spent countless hours reading as young children, through the teenage years and into today. When we get a chance to read, of course.
These days I’m actually in bed asleep by 9:30 pm because I’m a tired mom. But I still enjoy reading a good book, and I also enjoy reading with the kids.
We start with board books, picture books, then go up in complexity and length as the kids are ready, but even with small children it is a process to increase reading stamina.
But what’s reading stamina?
According to Reading Rocks…
“Reading stamina is a child’s ability to focus and read independently for long-ish periods of time without being distracted or without distracting others.”
While children are young they aren’t able to read on their own, obviously, but the ability to focus and pay attention still must be increased over time. (Here’s my post on how to teach toddlers focusing skills.) Both of my boys started out only being able to look at few pages of a book at a time. Part of this is because it’s hard to read to kids who won’t sit still, Part of it is because they’re young and have to gradually increase their capacity.
Here are some ways to increase reading stamina in your small children.
- Read regularly. Include reading in your nap and bedtime routines or at points throughout the day when you need a calming influence.
- Change it up. Read different types of books, and rotate which parents read. This helps children get used to hearing different voices, different inflections, different accents (my accent is Southern and my husband’s is Australian, ha), and different types of plots.
- Don’t get too advanced. While it’s good to challenge and stretch, reading books that are too advanced will make it difficult for your child to comprehend the story and they’ll lose focus as a result. This could also be discouraging depending on your child’s personality.
- Push through. If your toddler wants to quit after only a few pages, push a little further to read more. Don’t push so far they are turned off by reading, but enough to keep moving forward.
- Note their interests. My 22 month old won’t read a Tractor Mac book for too long, but he’ll sit and read a Thomas the Tank Engine book for 20 minutes.
- Don’t show frustration. Try your best to not get frustrated or angry if they don’t want to sit still and pay attention. See it as a long-term goal that you’re working towards step by step.