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The Importance of Storytime

Dear Debi,
I have a 3-year-old child who is very active and will not sit through storytime. I want to encourage his interest in books but he doesn’t seem interested. What can I do to get him to listen during storytime?
Takina, Lancaster, CA
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
  • Start reading to children early in their lives
  • Choose age-appropriate books
  • Prepare children for storytime with questions and music
  • Use voices and characters to entertain children
Expert Advice
Marilyn McConnie
Marilyn McConnie
Children’s literacy specialist
It is never too early to get kids interested in books. Start reading to them early in life so that their love for reading develops and stays with them throughout the years.

I recommend age-appropriate books. You can’t expect a two or three-year-old to sit through a long, complicated book. Start with a five-minute book and then build upon the story with voices, characters, songs and rhymes, to make reading more interesting to them.

I also recommend preparing the children for storytime. For instance, if you’re going to read a book about a fish, play a CD with ocean sounds and ask them questions about what they are listening to.

You should also hold up the book cover and ask the kids what they think the story is going to be about. By the time you start reading it, their imagination will be working and they will be really excited to hear the story.

Finishing the book is not as important as the process it takes to read with children. Getting the kids involved in the characters, entertaining them with voices and songs and repeating phrases, is enough for them to learn from the experience.

And remember, children pick up on your attitude towards reading; if you love reading and are enthusiastic during storytime, they will learn to love it, too.
Child Care provider Comments
Family child care provider for 4 years
I care for a child who’s not interested in storytime. He wanders off and loses attention easily. I’ve noticed, however, that he goes to the bookshelves on his own time and picks out books to read. To help foster that, I’ve organized my bookshelves so that the book’s spine faces out and the kids can easily see the titles.
Family child care provider for 2 years
I always try to find a connection between the arts-and-crafts activities that we do, and the book we’re reading. It helps the kids stay interested throughout storytime.
Family child care provider for 5 months
I make storytime interactive for the kids by incorporating puppets, felt board and coloring pictures. Reading, then, becomes an event, something they look forward to.
I also prefer for them to pick up a book of their choice. The power of selection helps them keep their interest.

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