Most children love books and stories but also struggle to pay attention and remain engaged. Children naturally have short attention spans, and these days you are also competing with iPhones, video games, tablets and other electronics for their attention. Here are some tips to help you establish a reading bond with your child.

Let Them Choose

Regardless of their age, people respond better when they are given choices. Letting your child choose their stories — even if it’s the ninth time this week they choose the same one — will naturally make them more inclined to pay attention and remain engaged. Forcing a child to read a book they are not interested in will lead to boredom. It may even cause a dislike of reading. Try to keep a good mix of beloved favorites along with new choices. Using a library is a great way to allow your child to choose new books.

Make Them Comfortable

The more comfortable your child is, the more likely they’ll be to stay still and pay attention to the story. An uncomfortable child will fidget, but a comfortable child will be more willing to snuggle up and have some one-on-one time with a parent. Warm, soft blankets can comfort your children during reading time. According to Sew Sweet, minky fabric makes for the softest blankets. Also having a pillow to prop them up can make them willing to relax and engage. If at night before bed, get them ready in their pajamas as well.

Have Them Participate

Reading to a child is not about getting through books as quickly as possible while your child listens passively. According to Book Trust, helping to develop an active reader is a key foundation for later literacy, critical thinking and more. With young children who are not yet verbal, point to pictures, use funny voices, identify colors and animals and let them touch or handle the book. As a child’s vocabulary develops, ask them questions or compare things to their own life and experiences. Let them talk or recite parts of the book they especially enjoy.

Reduce Distractions

Children are generally very easily distracted. A ringing or buzzing phone, a nearby tablet, or an active television can all take a child’s attention away from a book. To combat this, ensure your own devices are turned off or placed outside the reading area. Put other toys away so children do not fixate upon them or ask for them instead. Playing soothing environmental sounds or light instrumental music can help drown out distracting noises as well.

Reading to children is a vital part of early development. It introduces reading as a basis for enjoyment, information gathering and critical thinking. It is also a wonderful way to spend time bonding with your child and creating lasting memories for both of you.

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How to Help Your Child Pay Attention During Story Time

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