Read to Toddlers When They’re Ready


How much should you push your child to read at a young age?

Q: In your book on 2-year-olds, you recommend reading to a child from early on. My problem is that, every time I attempt to read to my 16-month-old son, he grabs the book away, closes it or wants to flip the pages himself. If I try to take it back from him, the battle is on, one that I do not wish to engage in. I'm sure there is a very commonsense solution, and I hope you will enlighten me.

I'd simply wait until your son is older and try again. Yes, reading to a child from as early as possible is beneficial in many ways. It stimulates a child's interest in books, enriches imagination, enhances language development, provides a setting for a very nurturing parent-child experience and stimulates the growing brain.

Along with that, I recommend, based on a solid body of research, that preschool children watch absolutely zero television and have absolutely no interaction with video games and computers. (Research psychologist Jane Healy, author of "Endangered Minds, " recommends that children remain TV-free well into elementary school.)

Reading to a preschooler and then letting him watch television (or play video games) is akin to taking one developmental step forward and then one developmental step backward.

But my entire recommendation reads as follows: Parents should read to a child from an early age as long as the child is willing to sit still and pay attention, obviously wants to be read to (goes and gets books and asks a parent to read to him), and the experience is enjoyable for both parent and child.

If all those conditions are not yet in place by 16 months, there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Just keep offering the opportunity to your son. Don't push. And stop worrying. Believe me, if he's not receptive to the experience for another year that will not make any difference in the long run.

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