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Pottery Barn Modern | Baby

Story Time: How to Keep Kids Engaged

One of the most beautiful things you can possibly share with your children is a book. An integral part of your play time with them, this is a great time to bond with your child as well as to share experiences about the world around them. However, in real life, toddlers get wiggly. They may or may not be able to sit through an entire story very easily, and as a parent, this can get frustrating. There are a few tried-and-true ways to keep kids engaged during story time, so that it’s meaningful for you, but still enjoyable and fun for them. A personalized book from us at Pottery Barn Kids is an excellent way to jump-start their reading library.

It’s important that you read to your children from the time they are welcomed into the world. Even though an infant can’t quite understand or discern books yet, reading is something soft and gentle and a routine you can start early on. From the beginning, make story time a quiet activity. Don’t attempt to have story time when they’re already doing something active, like bouncing in bouncer or playing on a mat. Make story time a separate, scheduled event that eventually your child will look forward to.

Babies, for the most part, are a pretty engaged audience, and the struggles may begin soon after your toddler has learned how to move and groove throughout the space. It’s perfectly okay to make story time right before bedtime if you need to. Babies and toddlers do get tired as the day wears on, and choosing a sleepier, more soothing book at bedtime works very well for story time. For reading during the day, you may want to pick a peppier title, or something that relates to what's actually occurring. For example, if you’re struggling through a snow day, choose some winter- or snow-related book titles to help soothe the mood. If Halloween is approaching, look for an exciting book about pumpkins. If Easter is around the corner, books about bunnies and eggs will help engage curious kids.

Also, look for books that capture your child’s attention, along with the added benefit of having them practice their fine motor control. Books where you have to lift the flap, slide the slide or those that otherwise require a small action help keep kids included, as if they're helping along with the story. It’s also a good idea to ask questions within the book, like a game. If it’s a familiar title, ask your children what happens next, or which character of the book is their favorite.

Just as you would with a family beach trip or outing, make reading a family event. At some point when kids get older, this may evolve into family game night, but at a young age, family reading night is especially fun for everyone. Dad and mom can take turns reading, and other siblings can help select titles as well.

If your child has an extremely hard time sitting and gets bored easily, it’s okay to offer a small reward after the book is complete. This doesn't have to be anything over the top, perhaps simply a favorite healthy snack or a short video they enjoy watching. The goal is at some point to have kids enjoy story time all by itself, but positive reinforcement and a reward system is fine until that’s accomplished. It’s also acceptable to go off-book and improvise. If you’re reading a Thomas and Friends™ book and are familiar with the characters, go off script and make up your own ending to the story. Kids can come up with their own endings, too – it’s half the fun!.

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