How I Got My Toddler Back on Books After She Got a Taste of Screen Time

From The Huffington Post:

When I opened the gates to screen time for my 2-year-old daughter, I was planning to limit it to airplane rides and sick days. But with TV and tablets came a whole new colorful world that hooked my tot instantly, and her new word— “cartoons!” — became a constant refrain. Almost overnight, her obsession with books and our sweet ritual of reading became a distant memory to her little toddler brain. Screens offered something much more exciting.

I felt OK introducing screen time, especially since most of the time I snuggle up on the couch and watch with her (which is why I now know every single word of Moana), to make the TV time as interactive and educational as I can. And the apps we’ve let her play with are all highly rated for learning. But when it came time to reading books together, her previously enthusiastic interest was now drawn to a shape-shifting demigod voiced by the Rock.

I was worried. For me, books are more than fun and educational. They’re a family tradition. My own lifelong passion for reading was sparked by my mother’s nightly read-aloud sessions with me and my sister. We never skipped a night, and it was truly a highlight of my childhood. I may not follow every custom my mom handed down (like her tendency to embroider our names on anything she could stick a needle into), but I know that a love of books is worth preserving. I want my kid to treasure that magical reading time as much as I did growing up, despite the irresistible pull of singing animals, animated princesses, and sweeping soundtracks (seriously, it’s hard to compete with Lin-Manuel Miranda).

. . . .

Make it a daily ritual

Every night, without fail, before my daughter heads to bed, we read at least two books together, usually more. On the nights she’s wound up and super resistant to sleep, this routine puts her in a mellow mood and helps her relax. By the time I turn the first page, she’s already heavy-lidded and sucking her thumb.

Let them pick

Your kid is bound to have favorite books, and you will inevitably groan inwardly (and probably outwardly) when she asks you to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar for the 200th time. But it’s those cherished favorites that will always comfort and entertain. (If we go for a third book, Mommy gets to pick. Otherwise we’d never rotate our library.)

Find a quiet, special space

We used to read in the rocker next to her crib, but on those nights she didn’t want to go to bed, she put up a fight just to enter her room. Then we used to read on the couch, but there are inevitably distractions ― the basketball game is on, the dog is barking at the neighbors, there’s music on the stereo. So I created our own special reading space on the bed in the guest room. It’s stocked with pillows and blankets, and I light some candles and lay out the book selections on the bed with us. It’s our insta-special reading spot! (It sure doesn’t take much with a toddler.) You can do this anywhere you have enough room for two.

Link to the rest at The Huffington Post

3 thoughts on “How I Got My Toddler Back on Books After She Got a Taste of Screen Time”

  1. 1. Teach your kid to read. If she is two, she does not need you, exclusively, to read to her.

    2. Stick a few simple books close to the bathroom, so your kid can do some reading time in a quiet space.

    3. Your picture books are probably not pretty enough, or busy enough. Or whatever aesthetic that your kid craves, developmentally. We had some fairly wacky stuff at our house.

    • Agreed. There just needs to be books in the house, period. And if the girl sees her parents reading, she’ll want to read, too. Kids love to imitate their parents, so once she learns how to read, she’ll start reading if she sees Mom and Dad reading.

      The mom could probably just start a bookcase in the girl’s playroom or bedroom; I had a coworker who set up her nursery with a bookcase she’d stocked before her daughter was born. The bookcase was cute, it was sort of like a store’s, where the books face out so a child could get enticed by the covers. The OP’s girl could browse books at her leisure, so that reading is more than a ritual.

  2. I am an omnivorous reader, of the kind who has piles of books strategically located around the house, because they don’t fit my 11 8 foot high bookcases. Heaven only knows what space the hundreds of books on my Kindle(s) would occupy were they rendered corporeal. I usually have around 5 books going at any one time. I confess to being a bookaholic.

    My wife always has a book going, which is likely normal for being a “reader”.

    We have 5 sons, the youngest being 28. None of them read to the extent that I did at the equivalent point in my life. Only one has a book going at all times like my wife.

    We read to all of the boys all of the time, and limited tv to Saturday mornings & Cubs games.

    I think that being a reader is genetic, & recessive. Assuming a minimum exposure, those born with two reader genes will be bookaholics, those with one will be readers, & those with none, not.

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