Got kids who won’t sit still when you are trying to read? Here are some great ways to get your reading in without forcing children to sit on your lap who just don’t want to!
My firstborn child, a girl, loved to read. From such a young age she’d sit with me and let me read board book after board book. We’d point and smile and as she got older it never changed.
Then I had boys.
And my boys did not do that. I would get frustrated when I tried to read to my kids who wouldn’t sit still and nearly threw in the reading towel… until I came to a very important conclusion…
Just because your toddler won’t sit still while reading doesn’t mean they don’t like reading
You might be saying “yeah, duh” but this was a game changer for me. I didn’t know how to read to kids who won’t sit still.
Once I realized that they don’t have to, I took a different approach to story time with boys and it made all the difference.
Now my nearly 3 year old and 18 month old will sit on my lap during story time (not that they have to) and will let me finish a few books at a time.
You can still read to kids who won’t sit still, here’s how!
These tips on how to read to kids who won’t sit still will take so much pressure off you so that reading is still fun!
1. Don’t make your kids sit still.
My boys would sort of walk, hope, or bounce around the chair I sat in to read and although they were not still… they were listening.
I wouldn’t let them talk or yell or make a ruckus, but I would not try to make them sit at my feet or in my lap. I was learning to read to kid’s who won’t sit still.
They’d come look at a picture, smile, walk away and then come back. It was a tad frustrating to me, but it was what it was and they enjoyed it.
Kids (toddlers through elementary school) will learn everything from life management, social, survival, and hygiene skills PLUS MORE!
2. Distract your toddler while reading.
Sounds counter intuitive, but I’ve found that giving them something sensory related to do, often helped them concentrate. I’ll sit my 18 month old on my lap and bounce him.
If someone bounced me and I tried to concentrate on a book I’d probably throw up, but not my boys!
You can give them a ball or silent toy to hold and they will fidget. You can read to kid’s who won’t sit still! Somehow this actually helps free their mind to pay attention.
3. Don’t read the book word for word to pre-toddlers and toddlers.
When my boys were little and actually made some progress in paying attention, I’d be sure not to prolong the story. After all, I was reading to kids who won’t sit still.
Literacy is promoted by any reading or word based activities, so summarizing a page or story is a handy trip when this happens.
Sometimes I’d read until I sensed they were about to check out, then I’d covertly skip to one of the last pages to round out the story. Can’t say they noticed, but it gave us a chance to celebrate finishing the book!
3. Ask your kids lots of questions about the book
Whether they are popping around you or fidgeting on your lap, point to pages of the book and ask questions.
If children have bought into the book or story time they’re more likely to pay attention.
Examples of good questions…
- What color is the ____?
- How many _____ do you see?
- Can you find the ____?
For advanced questioning ask…
- How is ___ feeling now?
- What do you think will happen next?
- What did ___ learn?
Want your kids to learn to independently follow their routines? These visual routine cards do the trick.Learn More
4. Let your child choose the books for story time.
I like to let my kids pick the books because there’s a higher chance they’ll actually let me read it if they were interested in the first place.
It’s hard enough to read to kid’s who won’t sit still, try reading if they aren’t interested.
As your kids get older and you begin to read chapter books to them regularly, why not rotate which child gets to pick which book? Similar to how you rotate toys.
And if they truly don’t enjoy it, don’t force the issue and risk giving them a bad taste in their mouth about it all.
5. Don’t become frustrated or take it personally.
I know certain personalities of ours (ahem, whose with me Type A moms?) tend to dislike busyness and chaos.
If it’s reading time, the ideal situation in our minds is everyone sitting quietly with their hands in their laps paying close attention and not uttering a word.
That typically isn’t the case with small children and particularly when you have a few you’re reading to at one time. Don’t let reading time become cumbersome by becoming frustrated!
The days are long but, after all, these years are so short!
Ultimately, reading is an awesome… awesome thing!
Even if your little ones act uninterested, that doesn’t mean they won’t become interested soon though if you push through.
While there are definitely developmental and academic benefits to reading, it’s also a great family bonding activity.
Get my cheat sheets (newborn up to elementary aged kids) and find your family’s groove.
Use them for:
- nap times
- meal times
- chore times
- play times
- AND more!
Don’t worry if you get off to a rocky start! Keep going and work together with your child to introduce them to the great joy of a good book.