I love to see my girls reading books, I truly do believe they are such an important part of childhood. They lay the foundation for a lifetime love of reading, learning and escaping into other worlds.
Bedtime stories, lunchtime stories, teepee stories, lying on the grass stories....they are all magical and I love to read to them as well as watch them read in their own little voices and world.
Lucky that because I don't think I have picked up a nice fiction book for myself to escape in or even read more than 2 pages of since the twins were born! I really miss the joy of opening a new book and I know there are many people across our country that find it hard to even access quality books let alone get an opportunity to read them. It makes me sad to think of adults and especially children not being able to pick up a book to read.
Recently I was offered the opportunity to work with Bookworld who are Australia's biggest bookstore with over 13 million books available and free shipping on every order. They asked me to help spread the word about their next pop up bookshelf and I was immediately onboard. What a fantastic idea! If you haven't heard of the pop up bookshelf let me enlighten you.
Bookworld asked the Australian public to nominate the location of their next pop-up shelf...this shelf will be stocked full of thousands of free books for a winning group, school, club or community. The public were asked to consider who they thought needed some free 'book-cheer' and a reminder of the joy of reading.
Don't you just love the concept? Imagine a shelf full of free books pulling up beside you? If I could also get a Mummy's retreat shelf with complimentary bottle of wine and earphones to enjoy a book in peace for the first time in over 3 years I would be in absolute heaven....the solitude...the space to think and not answer 'why or how' questions, being able to turn a page without a 3 yr old asking if I had 'really read that word at the top, show me again...' Perhaps they would even have a toilet hooked up to the back of the shelf that only parents would be allowed to use...no kids following or slipping hands under the door crack! But I digress...what was I talking about again? Books, that's right, lost myself in the fantasy there for a moment sorry, lack of personal space and thought processes will do that to you won't it?.
To see what a recent Bookworld Pop-Up looked like just click on the video below. Bet they don't see that everyday at the bus stop!!
Nominations have just closed but if you head over to the Bookworld Pop- Ups page you will see the 4 top nominations chosen by the judges and now it is over to the public to decide through their vote who wins the opportunity to browse the shelves and take home free books. In addition to a visit from the pop-up bookshelf the winner will also take home a $1000 book voucher...Oh the possibilities!
Why not stop by Bookworld and cast your vote. I'm not sure how I am going to pick just one, they all have such emotional and worthwhile stories to tell! It would really warm my heart though to see children taking home a special book to read or share with friends and community. There is just something awesome about seeing a child disappear into the pages of a book...I'm not speaking literally of course although I guess just for maybe 10 minutes wouldn't hurt, I could go to the toilet by myself in that time ;)
Do you enjoy reading stories to your kids? It can be challenging sometimes I know - especially with squirmy toddlers! Reading to younger children has always been a passion of mine and I have learnt many tips and strategies over my years working with toddlers and having had twin toddlers of my own. If you have been avoiding storytime because it's become a tad too stressful then why not try one of my ideas from the list below?
Reading to Toddlers....and having them listen!
My 5 Top tips!
Keep it short!
The toddler attention span only holds for a short space of time so choose books that have simple text and rhyme. Read for short periods of time but often throughout the day. Understand that at this age books will often be repetitive and favourites will need to be read over and over again! Read slowly so your toddler can follow your voice, there won't be many words so you can still keep it short, you don't need to read fast just because they might run off at any moment!
Keep it Engaging
Interactive books are the best way to keep toddlers interested. Use Lift the Flap styles, ask questions about the bright pictures and characters, enjoy books with textures that encourage touching and talking. Ask them to name and describe things they see...just keep them communicating and interacting!
If they really aren't showing an interest in stories then trying using some simple interactive stories and games on the feltboard or hand or finger puppets to add interest to your book..
Use your Voice
Yes I know that sounds simple but how you read using your voice can really make the difference between engaging a toddler in active listening or having them walk off straight away! Choose books that have a rhyme or repetition to them. Make the animal noises, speak differently for the little girl than you do for the Daddy or bear. Use your tone and volume to keep little people interested and following your every word. Let your voice rise and fall in line with the story. Act surprised, ask what they think will happen over the page, sigh, gasp, laugh...do it all. Yes you will look silly but trust me, a toddler doesn't care much!
Work with their developmental stage
Toddlers don't like sitting still....they will for short periods but you really need to keep them engaged during that time. I've often seen educators or parents constantly stopping a story to say 'sit down'. The rhythm of the story has been lost with all the interruptions. Wouldn't it be better just to keep reading and try to get them to interact with the book as a way to draw them back in? Let them move....the will wiggle, they will rock, they will squirm, they will lie down - It really doesn't matter because you will no doubt find they are still listening. Try a few questions to see if you still have their attention, get them doing some large moves e.g can you jump like the kangaroo in the story? Can you lap milk like the cat? Let them make noise "Can you growl like the tiger in the zoo here" "What is the bear saying to the kids?"
I promise you will be a lot less stressed if you work with them rather than against them!
Keep books accessible...especially the favourites
Yes, toddlers will quite often chew, throw or rip books. So it is up to us as adults to model a love and respect of books. Using board books and having them set up nicely on a shelf at their height or in a basket in a favourite spot can help. If we give them a little independence they will begin to read their favourites in their own 'voice' or try to copy your version. This is a wonderful step in thought processing and the development of early language skills. Toddlers love to copy their favourite people and at this stage that will be you! Show them how to choose books, turn pages, look at pictures, put them away and keep them for special story time moments later in the day.
Let them have favourites and be prepared to read those favourites until you think you might just go a little insane if you have to do it again. I still shudder when I see Ruby bringing out 'Where is the Green Sheep?" I can't tell you how many times I have read that story over the past few years...because I have blocked it out ;)
Seriously though, encouraging that ownership of a favourite story is one of the best ways to foster a love of independent reading a few years down the road!
Above all...HAVE FUN! Books are there to be enjoyed, if it is becoming a stressful experience during a reading session then put the book down, have fun playing together with something else and try again a little later, you want to make it a positive experience for all involved!
Now I have you fired up about reading to your toddler don't you just wish you had that Bookworld Pop - Up Shelf heading your way? Me too, but at least we can help make others happy by placing a vote for our favourite nomination, hurry before voting closes!
What would your toddler love to see on a pop-up bookshelf if it stopped in front of your place? What would you want to grab for yourself?
This blog post was written in partnership with Bookworld - as always though, the thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely my own and I truly believe this is a fantastic program!
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