How to Read Stories to a Very Active Child

Reading books with your child can play a significant role in their development. Not only does reading build vocabulary and improve listening skills, logical thinking, and memory in children, but it helps to strengthen the bond between parent and child.

But what do you do if your active, energetic child simply won’t sit still for story time? Here are some ideas:

Have your child engage in an activity of their choice while you read to them. Allow them to eat a snack or color while they listen to the story. You might also try reading to them while they take a bath.

Stories that allow you and your child to act out parts of the plot are a good option. Get up and join the rumpus with Max and the Wild Things or pirouette across the room like Fancy Nancy.

Establish a regular story time as part of your daily routine. Focus on times of the day that your child tends to be at his/her most calm—perhaps before naps and bedtime. Children are more likely to sit still when they are sleepy.

Name the characters in the story after people your child knows. Perhaps the truck driver becomes Uncle Bill or the farm dog becomes Bailey, Grandma’s Golden Retriever. This familiarity might help to spark your child’s interest in the story.

Ask questions as you go along. This could be as simple as asking your child to point out or name objects in the pictures. If your child is a bit older, you might ask them to predict what will happen next or ask them why they think a character feels or behaves a certain way.

Let your child choose the book. Kids often go through phases where they are very interested in—and perhaps a little obsessed with—a particular subject or character. Don’t worry if they choose the same book over and over again.

Listen to audiobooks in the car. Even though you aren’t the one reading, the benefits are similar. And your child is likely to be a captive audience as the car offers fewer distractions than home.

Even if you try everything and your child still isn’t interested in reading books, don’t push it. Reading should be an enjoyable experience for you and your child. They are likely to come around eventually. In the meantime, remember to make books accessible to them—on a bookshelf in the main living space in your home as well as in the car—so they can flip through them on their own if they choose.