Story time is an essential activity in a toddler's development, fostering creativity, imagination, and language skills. Sometimes, however, reading with your young child can feel more like a wrestling match than a sweet, snuggly story time.
As bilingual moms and music teachers, we understand the value of story time and are here to help you navigate it successfully. This blog gives you 5 essential tips to make your story time a valuable and rewarding experience for both you and your little ones.
Tip # 1:
Make sure to prepare! We're not talking about a 45-minute "make everything instagram-reel worthy" routine. But a few thoughtful moments before hand will help your child be excited to read.
Choose an age-appropriate book (books that are too long or have too many words on one page will mean extra wiggles when it's time to read.)
Look for vibrant pictures that grab their attention.
Pick a book on a topic that your child enjoys.
Let your child choose the book at your local (or at-home) library.
Tip # 2:
Make time to discuss the book while you read. If your child starts telling you stories because of something you're reading on the page, that is a VERY GOOD sign! That means they are engaged in the book and making connections to their real life.
Stop reading for a few minutes and let them share their story.
Maybe ask a follow-up questions and then draw their attention back to the story.
Ex: You're reading The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. The little boy wakes up, looks outside and sees the snow and your child excitedly starts talking about the other day when it snowed and you went outside together and built a snowman. Talk about somethings you did in the snow. Ask your child if they think Peter will build a snowman too. Then keep reading to find out.
Tip # 3:
Keep it short and sweet! A two-year-old has an average attention span of 4-6 minutes.
Shoot for a 5 minute story time. If your child is 2, that's a PERFECT amount of time.
Keep reading if they want to, but don't force it if they're ready to move on to something else.
Remember you don't have to read every single word on the page. Paraphrase or talk about the storyline using the pictures. Those are beginning reading skills for early readers and very valid ways to read to them at this age.
Tip # 4:
Make story time a multi-modal experience. Many parents overlook the importance of incorporating music, movement, or visual aids during story time, missing out on valuable opportunities to enhance their child's engagement and strengthen their comprehension.
What sounds on the page can you make with your child? Do you see cars, animals, a character walking through a path of crunchy leaves?
What actions on the page can your child act out? Is someone eating a snack and your child can pretend to take a big bite? Is a frog jumping over some logs and your child can jump along?
Are there rhyming words or a repeatable phrase that you can say in a sing-song way to help your child remember and repeat along?
Tip # 5:
Be consistent! Consistency is key when it comes to fostering healthy habits, and reading is no different.
Establish a dedicated time away from distractions.
Create a cozy reading environment where your child can associate books with comfort and relaxation.
Make reading together a daily habit.
Story time is a delightful and enriching experience for toddlers, shaping their language development, imagination, and bonding with parents. And, if you're new around here, you maybe haven't heard us say that second language skills are built upon the foundation of strong native language skills. So, you reading to your child in English is setting them up to be able to learn Spanish or any other language (including music) down the road.
As music teachers and bilingual moms, we encourage you to embrace these tips and witness the joy and growth that story time brings to your child's life. Let the storytelling adventures begin!