Parent’s Corner Extra :Reading is Playtime !

Book Festival!

My son gets read to a lot, he didn’t always like books books though. As an infant he would happily read along with me, swatting at bright colors in the illustrations and mimicking silly sounds I made to keep his attention when he was digging to nurse instead. We did a lot of reading while nursing too – sometimes I would read my books , other times I’d balance a copy Babar or Madeline on the boppy just past his head while we both multi tasked.

Then it happened, he started walking and playing and didn’t want to sit for books except for right before bed. He’d grab a book sit in my lap , we’d read 2 pages and he’d slam it closed and sign “Done”. I’m a patient mom, but that really bugged me. I would patiently grab another book and the slamming and dramatic “DONE” ( I imagined he was screaming the sign) would continue.

In time he started sitting for a book here or there, and by 18 months would easily sit for one or two but never more than that. I knew he was young and I was over thinking things but isn’t that what I do best? Some parents want their child to be a major league pitcher, all I wanted was for my son to love books was I asking too much?

Then one day when he was about 2 we were stuck at home due to weather and I went into his closet grabbed a huge stack of books and we had our first “Book Festival” . We locked ourselves in my bedroom, sitting a top my big bed where there was nothing to distract my son and we read 20 books.

I kid you not. 20.

He was well past signing at this stage having a pretty good vocabulary for a 2 year old but when I would close a book his signing came out again, not the sign for “done” like he did 6 months earlier, instead it was “more” and “please” he said the words as well but he was so excited he busted out his signs to show me just how badly he wanted more!

My whole point isn’t to say that I was being neurotic and putting unrealistic expectations on him ( which are both true) but it’s to say that I was approaching reading the wrong way for him. I always say to parents “Let your kids lead” with toddlers and young preschoolers their interests should lead the way. We as parents should jump on their interests and capitalize learning within that frame work. I wasn’t taking my advice at all. I was sitting down and saying it’s reading time, instead of making reading playtime.

Now we have book festivals at least once a week, sometimes much more. We read 5 books some days and others seem to go on forever! I always start with a huge stack of books and show him each one, he gets to choose which to read and which to pass up. I try to doctor the piles with more advanced books , or ones he’s vetoed during previous festivals but he’s figured it out and will often say ” No mama, I no want that last time.” I still keep trying, but we keep it fun and now reading is playtime.

Need book recommendations for your first festival?
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Want to get more ideas for playtime and insights about play from other parents
Pop over to
PhD in Parenting
They are hosting a Carnival of Play where they are devoting the first two weeks of April to discussing the importance of play in our children’s lives.

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  1. Shana says

    it was the same for my son….all of a sudden, he was into books. He and his big sister will sit for an extended period of time reading books while I do something mom-like. HE reads at least 6 books at nap/bedtime alone!

  2. Ohana Mama says

    You know what…I just cleaned out a ton of our toys and the kids are waaaaay more into their books now and want me to read more more more. Usually right before bedtime – it’s been fun and a nice way to end the day (even if I yawn through the reads…they don’t seem to mind)

  3. Annette says

    Meghan has always loved books, and my infant seems quite interested. But she doesn’t sit and read when she has toys to play. BUT after naptime and when she gets up in the morning the gate at her door is locked, and instead of playing with toys, she will sit by her bookcase or lay on the floor and just read. Lovely!

    I love the book festival!

  4. K, @ Heart says

    OH MAN! I SOOOOOOOO know what you mean about your son not being into books and wanting desperately for him to LOVE them. My husband and I are avid readers and we even named our son after a Christian Philosopher. We had high hopes that he would be born with a book in his hands. Not so much. 🙁 But he is finally (at age 2) really starting to love books. I adore the idea of a book festival! We will be doing this. You should do an official Book Festival and add Mr. Linky 🙂

  5. Christy says

    Great post! I’m going to plan a book festival because my kids seem to pick the same books over and over and some are never read even though they do like those books. I’m lucky that all three of my children LOVE books.

  6. Tara @ Feels like home says

    I’ve always been really lucky where books are concerned. Gracie would much rather read than cook or play with her other toys. She often brings me a whole stack of books and says, “Read.” She’s 22 months old.

    I’m to the point where I’m leaning the other direction, and this how do I get her to play with toys instead of reading? 🙂 The grass is always greener, huh?

  7. cgivans says

    None of my boys were ever into books once they could move…it was just too hard to get them to sit still. I never pushed reading on them. Now my oldest who is now 11 is ALWAYS bugging me to go to the library and can finish a decent sized chapter book in a matter of days. My 7 year old is well into reading…but the only time I can really get him to volunteer to read is when he reads to his 5 year old brother at night before bed. It’s kind of their bedtime ritual. It’s amazing how children will actually take an interest in learning if we just follow their learning leads and don’t try to push them into something they just aren’t ready for in one way or another! Great post!!!

  8. del4yo says

    I didn’t realise how lucky I was…I began to read book to my son at 3months old because he was interested by my Art books I was watching while nursing him. He is 2 now.
    Never had a problem except the fact we don’t always agree on our favorites.
    This said, I was surprised to see a boy delighted by the Gyo Fujikawa books. Good for me : I love them too.

  9. Amanda says

    Book Carnival sounds like our library day! As soon as we get home from the library Maddie ‘needs’ to read every single book we have taken out. Not just once either, multiple times. Every Wednesday we have story time at the library and then at least a good hour if not two of story time at home!

  10. Basia says

    This is exactly what I am going through now. Connor is 17 months and is just starting to get back into reading after a period of being too active to sit and listen to a story. Now we can read multiple books in one sitting and I am also noticing that the books are themselves getting longer and longer. I love sharing all the wonderful books with him!

  11. Rebecca says

    So fun!! I’m lucky, my son loves to read and at a variety of times during the day. Sometimes with us, sometimes he’ll browse on his own while I’m making supper. Either way, it’s a wonderful thing to see.

    A book festival looks like so much fun!


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