HELP! My child won’t sit still to read

Does your child like to ‘read’ but only sits long enough for you to read the first page of the book? Join us as we begin a new series of posts that begin with, “HELP! My child…”, where we answer some common questions that leave parents stumped. The child who refuses to sit still to read is a common source of concern and frustration for parents.

These top tips will help your child to learn to love books!

1. Sit across from your child and get down to their level

It is really nice to snuggle up with your child on your lap to read but for some kids, they really want to see you more than the book. They want to see your eyes, your lips, your facial expressions as you read the book. They may not naturally connect to stories easily, but they can connect with YOU. Position yourself at their level as much as you can. For young toddlers, you may even have to lie on your stomach so they aren’t having to look up at you!

2. Make the story come to life

If you are sitting face to face with them, it is the perfect opportunity for you to be animated. Don’t be self-conscious; if you are excited about the story, they will be excited too! Do the actions as the characters would and say the words as they would say them. As the excitement of the story builds, you can add in your own comments to show your child you are wanting to find out what happens in the story (e.g, “I wonder what will happen on the next page”, “I can’t wait to find out what happens next!”).

3. Involve them in the reading

Ask your child to physically be involved, by having them turn the pages, or even hold the book. Give them a special job to do! Yes, it may mean that sometimes pages get ripped, but it is worthwhile to help your child treasure and value reading. I have had to sticky tape many books in both my work life and my mum life!

4. Go slow

Perhaps you can incrementally increase the number of pages you read together. Start with one page. If your child wants to stop, then stop, but aim to read another few pages next time. Praise your child specifically for sharing the book with you (e.g., “Great listening to the story”, “Thanks for reading this book with me”). If you’ve picked a good book that’s appropriate for them,  they will want you to keep reading.

We hope these tips are handy for you. Picking the right book can be the tricky part sometimes. Stay tuned for a post about choosing the right book for your child soon!

Thanks for hearing our call,

Your Little Birdies