I've gotten used to reading to my son every night during our bedtime ritual, but now things have gotten much more challenging. Whenever I pick up a book, he immediately grabs it from my hands and starts flipping the pages (in both direction) before eventually just slamming it shut. Sometimes I try to distract him by giving him another book to hold, and then while he's playing with it I take another book and start reading out loud -- but after a page or two, he puts down his book and grabs mine! It has made it impossible to read to him!
Do you have any advice? Of course, I know that this is a brave new stage in his life, and that it's very normal for toddlers to do this, and that lots of parents deal with it. But I don't know how to do it. I've heard that some people just make up their own story based on the pictures, or simply skip ahead (or backwards) as the child flips the pages. But he closes the books pretty frequently and flips them over and then tosses them aside and reaches for another one. Plus, since I'm the primary source of minority language exposure, I have really valued the opportunity to read him well-crafted stories every night, but if I just start pointing and naming pictures or skipping ahead or backwards to keep up with his page-flipping, then that sacrifices the quality of the story.
My little one is 15 months and does this, too. Flipping pages seems to be quite exciting. But she doesn't always do it, it just depends on the mood she is in. I try to read to her at different times throughout the day and definitely when she is my captive audience during a meal. Even then she doesn't always listen.
Sam, you might try giving him more tactile books or other appealing objects/toys while you read to him. Perhaps this would help focus his attention away from the book in your hands.
Seating him in a highchair, as Heidi suggested, also creates more controlled "captive conditions" for easier reading. I recall doing this with my own kids.
Meanwhile, keep in mind that this stage should be relatively short-lived and if you can simply persevere past it--with some trial-and-error in your efforts to make the most of a challenging time--then I expect you'll reach calmer waters before too long.
Adam Beck is the founder of Bilingual Monkeys and The Bilingual Zoo, and the author of the book "Maximize Your Child's Bilingual Ability", praised worldwide by parents and experts in the field. Available at Amazon amzn.to/22XKuCt, the global Amazon sites, and other booksellers.
As you state yourself, this is probably just a phase, and you WILL eventually get back to reading stories to him.
In the meantime focus on what is really important: spending time together and communicating. Perhaps instead of trying to make it a story, just talk about the book and what he is doing. Ask him what he finds interesting, which page he likes best and so on.
Another idea is to draw pictures to a story yourself and let him watch while you tell the story to the drawing. Many children find it really interesting to watch others create recognizable images.
Further interactions could be finger games, lap bounces and interactive songs and rhymes.
While reading is great, communicating is more important. And once this phase passes, you can always re-establish a reading routine.
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Nellie: Adam - will watch the video as soon as I can (living circumstances not permitting right now - we are still in temp accommodation and I can't turn on volume) - looking forward to it!
Sept 22, 2017 5:56:44 GMT 9
Mayken: Skyping with grandma last night had to be cancelled due to technological problems - I needed to talk my mom through a Skype update and her phone battery died. :-(
Sept 25, 2017 20:45:42 GMT 9
Joanna: sorry Mayken...this is sad but funny as I'm sure many skype Grandparents have the same woes !(mine..) For us this weekend: potty training has led to great quality time reading and chatting, and some pretty hilarious ml questions
Sept 26, 2017 6:20:44 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Mayken and Joanna, I can relate! My mother (Grandma) can't seem to get the sound on her computer working so when we Skype, we also have to use the telephone!
Sept 26, 2017 6:36:03 GMT 9
Mayken: Adam, and Joanna, it's good to know we're not alone in this!
Sept 27, 2017 2:46:28 GMT 9
Joanna: Planning a long Christmas minority language visit, so exciting!
Sept 30, 2017 14:46:01 GMT 9
Mayken: Yay! Skype is working again on my mom's tablet, meaning we can skype with ml grandma again!
Oct 2, 2017 23:12:24 GMT 9
Mayken: The other day my mom (monolingual ml) called while my daughter and I were out, so Daddy (monolingual ML) answered. My mom was amazed to find out he isn't monolingual ML any more after all, and praised his active ml ability.
Oct 3, 2017 23:28:39 GMT 9
Joanna: For each day my daughter is exposed to other people speaking English (here in France) I put a little star on the calendar...trying to fill it up!
Oct 8, 2017 3:52:17 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Nice motivating idea, Joanna! And Mayken, thanks for sharing your good news on two fronts!
Oct 9, 2017 7:11:50 GMT 9
Marisa: My daughter won't say number one in Spanish or English, but in German! She loves recognizing the number and saying it out loud... it sounds more like the word 'ice' in English, though, but it's 'eins.' Number 9, however, is 'nueve'. So funny!
Oct 11, 2017 10:33:45 GMT 9
Mayken: My dad's giving Adam's book to his Lithuanian friend's daughter, whose husband is sceptical about their little girl learning German.
Oct 14, 2017 21:10:20 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Mayken, thank you for sharing my book! I hope it can be helpful to them!
Oct 16, 2017 15:57:32 GMT 9
Marisa: Adam, another bilingual monkey is about to be born near me (one of my colleagues is giving birth tomorrow), so I also got her and her husband a copy of your book... this world needs more bilingual kids!
Oct 18, 2017 0:06:43 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Many thanks, Marisa! In my humble opinion, more bilingual kids = more empathy in the world = a more peaceful planet.
Oct 18, 2017 7:33:04 GMT 9