If you’re a parent and your child is perpetually on the move, I can relate. My methodical, industrious two year old has snapped into a new state of existence defined by loud, energetic gross motor skills. Our afternoons, once spent quietly lining up Matchbox cars, are now full of jumping, running, soccer, roaring, and all-around chaos.
Reading isn’t exactly at the center of my son’s universe these days. In fact, no quiet activities are. As with all toddler behavior, I can fight against his wildness (which almost always ends in an unpleasant power struggle) or I can embrace this phase and work with him.
I’ve chosen the latter. During the serene moments in the evening when he’s snuggling into bed, we read several quiet books and enjoy the break from constant activity. During the day, however, when his energy tank is filled to the brim, we find other ways to work books into our lives.
A toddler is like a strong summer blossom unfurling, and I am enthralled as I witness my son’s imagination unfold before my eyes. I’ve learned that the key to an engaging interaction is finding a way to stimulate this imagination with books.
We’ve started finding books on animals and nature that capture movement in their words, and we use these books as inspiration for creative play. We might read a book on cats, for example, and spend our afternoon pretending to be cats – moving, stretching, exploring.
I have discovered that the promise of silly or unique movements at the conclusion of the book is enough to capture my son’s attention as we read together. And all the while, we are finding new ways to interact with each other.
Here are a few great books we’ve read and used as fuel for our creative fire:
Mama Cat Has Three Kittens by Denise Fleming
Walking Through the Jungle by Julie Lacome
Run, Jump, Whiz, Splash by Vera Rosenberry
Water Dance by Thomas Locker