Now, I’ll admit that it’s been a while since I’ve actually had time to sit down and read a story to a child. I don’t have any children of my own, but I’m lucky to work in an environment where I can “borrow” a few minutes with other people’s kids. However, after a lovely Saturday playing with everyone who visited us at the store, one little boy asked us to give him some English book recommendations. Everything I gave him, he would collect, and then we would sit down so I could read him the story.
At first, I was concerned: would he be able to understand my English? How about the English story? And he seemed to be fidgeting in his chair a lot…
But after a few stories, I relaxed enough to remember a few key things about reading to little kids.
The first thing I remembered was that kids fidget! They’re tiny little bundles of energy and overloaded senses, and so it’s only natural if they squirm while you’re reading a book or telling a story. As adults, we think that if a person is fidgeting they aren’t paying attention, but you have to remember that we’ve had our boogie tendencies combed out of us over the years. So if your little kid is scooting and wiggling during the story, don’t feel rushed! Take it slowly, and allow them to fidget a little. If they’re sick of the story, they’ll let you know.
The second thing I remembered is that kids love to tell their own stories! They’re frequently try to interrupt your story in order to tell you about something the story reminds them of. Try to be patient, listen, and (if you can) try to bring it back to the story. For example: “That’s so interesting that you found that snail in your garden! What do you think the little boy is going to do now that he’s found an alien? Let’s find out!”
Building off of that last point, the last thing I remembered was that to keep the child engaged, you should try to ask them questions as you go. “Do you see that little doggie in the corner of the picture? What do you think he’s doing there?” These kinds of questions bring their focus back to the book at hand and keep them interested in what’s going to happen next.
Sharing a book with a child is a special joy. By reading to them, you’re helping them encounter the real things they’ll face out in the world in a safe and controlled environment. Are they going to face aliens in the garden? Probably not: but they might come across a new and strange friend.
So now that you know my little “ah-ha!” moments, I want to hear about yours! What kind of tips and tricks do you use when you’re reading to your little ones? Let us know in the comments below!