Story time is an excellent bonding and learning opportunity for you and your little one. Sometimes, however, it seems like more of a hassle than a valuable experience. When your toddler is trying to wiggle away, or take the book from you, or just generally isn't listening, you wonder if it's really worth it. The answer is still yes. With a few tricks and a lot of patience (a common theme when working with a one-year-old) you can turn your story time struggles in to learning and snuggles.
Start by making story time a predictable event. Choose the same spot and the same times each day. Try creating a cozy nook near the book shelf or a rocking chair near a basket of books. Once you've established your reading spot, your little one will know what to expect when you scoop her up onto your lap and slide into your reading nook. To really solidify the experience in your baby's mind, pick predictable times to read. Try reading just before nap and bed times and build it into the routine. This will give you several opportunities to read during the day- you might even be able to get through a whole book.
Remember that your one-year-old has a fairly short attention span, but this span varies greatly among children. You may have a toddler who sits patiently through long stories, or a toddler who is distracted before you even open the book. Knowing your child can help you when selecting a book for story time. Choose a book with a topic that she seems interested in, like animals or trains. At age one, your toddler may simply enjoy the bright pictures of a simple counting book. Even though she doesn't understand all of the words you are reading, you might be surprised to find that a longer book with a rhyme or rhythm will hold your little one's attention as she listens to the cadence of your voice as you read. As for the toddler with the short attention span, it is ok to only get through a page and take a break. Continue with the rest of your routine and try again at the next nap, or bedtime. You can pick back up with the same book, or try something new.
Getting your kiddo actively involved in story time is a great way to hold her attention. Board books are a great choice because she can help turn the pages for you while you read. For the especially active one year old, find books with moving parts or buttons to push. Get your child involved in the story by having her push the buttons at the appropriate times during the story. Touch and feel books are another great sensory tool and will keep your toddler engaged in the story by letting them feel the pages you are reading. If your child is really struggling through you reading the words on the page, then don't. Start out your story times by taking a "picture walk through the book. Look at the pictures, point at different colors, count different objects and help your little one get involved that way.
For the one year old, story time isn't necessarily about the story. The learning going on is about discovering the magic of a book. You are teaching her, by simply turning the pages and letting her see that there is new information on every page. It may seem like a struggle now, but stick with it, and little by little, you are on your way to creating a life long reader.
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