How do you make children listen to you read books--you don't. You invite those interested to listen.
Updated June 9, 2020
I was young; I was naive; I was just another practicum student passing through that Day Care Centre.
The staff tried to warn me. "These kids don't like books. They won't sit still."
But I didn't listen...
I walked over to a group of four children who were colouring at a small table.
"A little mouse went creeping, creeping, creeping." I chanted as I crept two fingers across the table. "A little mouse went creeping across the kitchen floor.
The great, big cat went stomping, stomping, stomping." I hit the table like a drum and the children joined me. "The great, big cat went stomping across the kitchen floor."
"The little mouse ran away." I ran my fingers off the edge of the table and the children laughed. "Would you like to hear a story?"
One of the children said, "Yes." and followed me to the library corner. She was joined by two other children.
The girl who'd accepted my invitation forced a book into my hands. "This one. Read this one."
I held the book in the air and called. "Storytime."
Most of the children ignored me, but a boy who'd been playing with a car parked it and came to the circle. He pulled a book off the shelf. "Read this book."
"I'll read this one first and then I'll read yours," I told him.
"Sometimes it looked like split milk but...," I began--that brought a few more children to our group.
"I have a bunny," a girl said, loudly.
"No, you don't," another girl said.
"Yes, I do."
Their debate drowned out my reading.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the staff exchange a smile.
"What do you think this is?" I asked the girl who thought she had a rabbit.
"An airplane," she guessed.
"No, it's not," a boy said. "It's a bird."
We continued to tell the story together and more and more of the children were drawn into the circle until they all were engaged in storytelling.
I flipped from one page to another, until... "Sometimes it looked like split milk, but it wasn't split milk. It was a..."
I waited for the children to call out the answer and I was rewarded with a chorus.
"Read another one," the children said and I'm still reading.
Toddler Story Time (YouTube video)
Why Story-Time Rocks
And in 2015 I wrote an article about my most recent experience sharing books with a group of children. Here's the link.
Next post (Sunday, April 10th -- published after 5 P.M. PST): Your preschooler loves board books and you're wondering when and how you should introduce your child to picture books. I was an Early Childhood Educator working with preschoolers in Day Care Centres for over fourteen years. I read tons of picture books to groups of children and I'm delighted to share my tips in my next post.
Sharing my author journey...
Some writers love to do research.
Much of the research for my manuscripts is pulled directly from my life--there's a difference between studying about something and living it.
Spending hours pouring over print or web based material is interesting, but I find that it cuts into time better spent writing.
Collecting copious amounts of data leaves some writers frustrated when they are unable to successfully weave it all into their manuscripts. That's why I prefer to do research on an as needed basis. Say, for example, this week when I needed to find information on adapting a residence to accommodate a wheelchair.
Thankfully, I was able to find three YouTube videos that provided me with this information.