Reading to your children

Amanda - posted on 01/23/2011 ( 218 moms have responded )

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My son is almost 16 months old, and I keep reading all of this information about when you should start reading to kids. I have been trying to read to my son for quite sometime. However, he NEVER lets me finish a book. He comes over and rips the book out of my hands. If I switch to another book, he does the same thing. He has ripped the pages of many books. Does/did anyone else have this trouble reading to their children? When does it get better?

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[deleted account]

16 month olds are never still are they! =)

Don't force him to sit still and listen. As he's playing, pick up a book and read it aloud. He's listening, even if it doesn't seem like it! You don't have to finish a book. That will come with time. And you don't have to actually read every word on every page. Just looking at pictures and "playing" with books is good for kids!

Also, I'd invest in some board books. He won't be able to destroy them! My almost three year old is JUST now getting to where we can look at paper books without ripping them. You'll use the board books for a long time, so it's well worth the money!

Carolyn - posted on 01/23/2011

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One thing is I believe you may have started to late. Reading stories to your kids should start as infants. Not only at bedtime either. Should start with short stories & picture books hard backs. Describe what your looking at not so much the words on the page. Get him excited about what you see, the tree how it's green, fish how they love the water, flowers how they smell that sort of thing. Things he can relate to. Then slowly put in the words as he gets more patients. Talk about things that he seems to like, trucks, trains, baseball, any activity he really likes. If he likes it to start he's more likely to want to hear more about it. Best of Luck

[deleted account]

Amanda, I'm going to respectfully disagree on your opinion of "My Baby Can Read." I received a Master of Education from Louisiana State University and I taught reading, so this is not an uniformed opinion. Basically the program teaches using whole language and memorization which is only a small part of actually reading. Reading is a complex skill that also includes fluency, comprehension, and phonics. I'm glad you've found it useful, but I disagree with the research done on it.

Stacey - posted on 01/24/2011

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I'm lucky; my 2 year-old son loves books and has always enjoyed my reading to him. In fact, reading is one of the few activities in which he actually sits still!

My suggestion is to wait till your son is sleepy, and let him choose from a few books himself. Then sit him on your lap, and instead of reading the book to him, just look at and talk about the pictures in the book. Point to different things and talk about and ask him questions about them.

Also, make books a part of his daily life. Keep them out along with his toys so that he can pick them up and look at them whenever he wants. Let him see you reading your own books (because children love to mimic their parents). If he has a favorite cartoon, try to get a book that has the same characters in it. Perhaps find a book that is "active": has buttons to push to make noises, has pictures that "pop out", or has different textures that your child can feel.

Most of all, be patient. Don't force him to sit still for story time if he's not ready. Be encouraging and positive so that he associates books with enjoyment and fun and not something to simply be endured.

Krista - posted on 01/23/2011

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Heh -- my 17-month old son does the same thing. I used to read to him in the rocking chair right before bed, starting when he was about 6 months old. It was a lovely little routine we had down. But now when I try to read, he wants to see what's next and flips the pages so fast that I can't even keep up with the story.

What I've done is bought a few board books (MUCH more durable than paper!) that just basically show pictures of objects and their names. He's at the phase where he points to everything and wants to know what it is. So we look at those books now instead, and he'll point to something, and I'll say what it is. And if he flips the pages backwards or forwards, or skips three pages, it doesn't matter. If he lingers on any one page, I'll elaborate. So instead of just "Ball", I'll say, "Ball. Round orange ball. We throw the ball." Or, "Kitty! Look at the nice, soft kitty. We pet the kitty very gently."

It's not as "warm 'n' fuzzy" as reading him stories, but it's certainly better than nothing, right?

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Melanie - posted on 01/28/2011

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Im only reading to my son at bedtime at the moment, to try and stop this from happening.
IF during the day he comes with me with a book, I'll sit with him and look at the pictures and talk about the pictures we see.

Floreta - posted on 01/28/2011

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It is ok as you proceed. At first you should see what the child likes books. The images really like 1-3 years. It is the time
when they explore the world around us.

Lauryl - posted on 01/28/2011

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Don't worry, that's just the age. Keep reading, keep reading, keep reading! For a 16-month-old, I recommend short board books with lots of big pictures that he can play with without wrecking. Read to him, but be loose about it. Let him turn the pages and point things out that he likes. My three year old used to do the same thing, and now he is a fantastic book-listener. I can even read to him from chapter books without a lot of pictures and he loves to listen.

Angela - posted on 01/28/2011

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As a mother of 6 children I learned to read sitting at the kitchen table not on the couch! I sit far enough away that they can't reach the books and it keeps the 2 yr old from climbing on the 6 yr old while they fight who sits in mom's lap lol. Also I didn't start "reading" to them until they were a little older. I pick bright colorful books and just point out the pictures and say something like "Oh my gosh look where that red car is" and that gets the baby's attention long enough to look at the page They have coloring books and board books that they look at on their own

Hush - posted on 01/28/2011

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start with the short books that are thick pages. Get there toys to read it to them if distracted.

[deleted account]

Keep trying, Amanda. Make sure you have the right kind of books - not too much text (in fact, hardly any) and lots of graphics. Many manufacturers of the cheaper kids' books have full stories and that's just not suitable for this age. Toddlers don't have the concentration span for an entire story, but they o9ften enjoy things like a picture of a cat, and the word "cat." Then you can ask what noise a cat makes and so on. Books should be part of play and interaction , not something separate.

Maybe you'd like to take him along to storytime at your local library. They busually have age-appropriate sessions. The librarian would be a good person to chat to about suitable things to read with your little boy.

I used to be a children's librarian and mums often wanted some information on this topic. And you can borrow for free!

Megan - posted on 01/28/2011

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i have the same problem, so i put the books away that have paper pages and for now i just read books that have card board pages so if my son wants to help turn the pages or rips it out of my hand no damage is done. plus the books with the card board pages seem alittle shorter so he sits threw them better

Rebecca - posted on 01/28/2011

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at that age my son never let me finish even a page but he did like to look at the pictures so I would just talk with him about the pictures and he only had hard books so he could look at them by himself as well

Susie - posted on 01/28/2011

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There is no need to be concerned,about your son,not being able to get through a whole story.I have worked in childcare,for a couple of decades and this is 100% age appropriate,for your son,not to be able to concentrate,through an entire story,at 16 months old.The important thing is,that you are spending the time with him.You are reading to him.Sometime ,those little books,with a single picture of a 'drum' for instance on a page,with the singular word,are the best,for your sons age group.The Baby Einstein' dvds,are also a great resource,for language skills..and most importantly,just interacting and talking to your child.Singing to him.All of these activities are very beneficial.Children of 3 years,still struggle,very often,with having to sit through an entire story.It's a long time to concentrate on one subject,when there is so much to discover!

Chaya - posted on 01/28/2011

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Read to him no matter what you have to fight him on. Bed time is good, any quiet time is good. If reading isn't an option, speak to him. Point out animals or babies, or whatever interests him

Bryndís - posted on 01/28/2011

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Try getting a book with hard pages, with colorful pictures and just one or two lines to read on every page. When he's 2 yrs old he is ready for real books :) You should gradually get books with more text after that :)

Sarah - posted on 01/28/2011

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I agree my two year loves books but doesn,t sit and listen to me read the words, he is much more interested in getting me to ask where,s the (object) it,s only very occasionaly he will even let me read a sentance, but he is still learning and I know he will love being read to soon enough.

Tracey - posted on 01/28/2011

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My 2 year old will get a book and hand it to me and stand beside me while I read it, we all read a lot and he use to ripe the books up and try and turn the pages (which is a fine motor skill and the little one is practicing). It does get better with age and understanding. Even a little bit of the book is a good thing.

Sharon - posted on 01/28/2011

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When my son was that age I put him in the high chair with a little snack and he was able to give me his undivided attention! Also: naptime and bedtime when they are not as playful. Now Alexander is going to be 3 in February and can read by himself and LOOOOOVES to read!!!

Olya - posted on 01/28/2011

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Amanda, please do continue reading to your child. Try to choose age appropriate books - board book with lots of pictures and little text. You can check this website for excellent british books which are very attractive to children. www.usborneonline.ca/olya
As your child gets older, he will be more patient and enjoy longer books. And it OK if he wants to turn the page to the page he likes most. Exploring one page in the book and talking about it will be enough for 16 mo old. and remember this is your special bonding time, not a 45min literature class. if you do 3-5 min reading sessions it will be great.

Jane - posted on 01/28/2011

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You don't need to "read" books if he is not into it. You can have him point to pictures and name them. Find books that he can chew or can take a little abuse. Keep the more fragile books for times when he will sit. You don't have to finish a book in one sitting. Also, let him see YOU reading...a magazine, a book, a paper.
Also get books with things that interest him...trucks, a cartoon character, etc. Let him hold that book, turn the pages, etc. talk about what is happening in the pictures. THAT is reading...and it does get better!

Pamela - posted on 01/28/2011

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One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is to read to them on a DAILY basis. Not only does it give QUALITY time to the child, it sets good patterns for wanting to learn to read.
My Mother read to us as children at night before we went to bed. It is still s treasured time in my life and I am the age of grandmothers.
In terms of your son's behavior, perhaps you're trying it at the wrong time of day. Try it when he is sleepy and ready to go to bed. Perhaps he will be less fiesty then.
BTW, rearing children doesn't necessarily 'get better', the task simply changes as does the stages of growth of the child. Children do tend to be 'hands on' during what we have called the 'terrible twos'.....anywhere from about 15 months to 3 years. If you are allowing him to tear the books.....even just a little, you are allowing a poor behavior pattern to set in. Stop his hand the minute it touches the book in a negative manner, take his hand away from the book and say "Books are our friends. When you can treat your friend nicely, I can share it with you.".
Good Luck!!!

Shelley - posted on 01/28/2011

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Little guys have very shot attention spans, but they don't miss a trick..... so don't stop reading! they relate to consistency, something you do all the time will be something he will get used to and if you stop will ask why? and can we do it again!! children love to do what there parents do, he will get the message that reading is what you do and want to do it also, reading is a great habit for a child to get into... so keep it up! be patient he will get it soon enough, have fun Mom don't get upset

Lyndsay - posted on 01/28/2011

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I haven't made it through all of the replies, but I highly recommend that you read "The Read Aloud Handbook" by Jim Trelease. It talks about how important it is to read to kids *and* how to do it effectively. He also gives some great suggestions for age-appropriate material all the way up through middle and high school ages (yes, it is still important to read aloud to kids who can read to themselves). The key at this young age, though, is just to create positive associations with reading. Don't make it a battle. Make it something fun and comfortable so that he thinks of happy things when he sees books. That's the first step to creating a lifelong reader. And it's never too late to start!

Keri - posted on 01/28/2011

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My Son is almost 6yrs now but when he was younger he would do the exact same thing. Don't push the books do a little at a time. Now my son can't get enough of books. Sounds like your son wants to do something else. Hope this helped.

Debby - posted on 01/28/2011

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At his age, board books are best...read a few pages and let him have the book! Ask questions about the picture (where's the duck?) Reading time should be quiet time before nap or bedtime...don't switch books, that encourages distraction. He will settle in with repetition. As a former Early Childhood/Elem Educator, I read to my children from as early as two months and now do so with my 6 mo old grandson.He loves it! But there will come a time when we must switch him to board books for a while--it's natural! Like everything else, this too will be tasted, thrown, pulled--to the little ones, it's a toy "MINE". Leave some laying around and read when he discovers and picks it up:)

Meaghn - posted on 01/28/2011

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My first would sit and listen to a book, actively looking at the pictures and loving the sotry from the time she was about 3 months old. My second, also a girl is now 19 months old, and I'd say that it's only been in the last month or so that she's actually started to sit and listen. So while I'd read to the older, the younger would be playing in the room. Every kid is different, and you don't want to make reading a chore, either for you or the little one. Reading for my eldest was becoming a chore for me, as she was asking for 5 or 6 books a day, so we got her a TAG reader for Christmas (and the Jr. for the 19 mo. old) and everyone's happy. We can still enjoy story time, but my little book worm can enjoy "reading" her books on her own now, too. It's so cute when she "reads" to her little sister.

Jennifer - posted on 01/28/2011

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Keep trying! Ive been reading to my daughter since she was a newborn. When she was 1-2 she didnt sit still very long so I found tons of short books that were just about stimulation and pointing to pictures ( not actual stories) so I could get her to sit long enough, If she didnt want to, I didnt force her but I did constantly try to read. Eventually about 2 or so she could sit a lttle longer and we just worked a book or two into our bedtime routine every night. It will get better-just keep up the good work-keep trying to find new books he might like-show them to him at the store and let him pick (even though it will be the picture he likes most). Get excited about reading every single time but dont force it. Get excited about new books too!

Cyndi - posted on 01/28/2011

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As others have said, it doesn't matter if you finish the book, or if he wants to turn the pages forward or backward.

Just establishing that reading is FUN is a big step. I'm a big reader and 'read' to my children in utero. My children & I read multiple times a day. We never, ever missed the bed time reading. It is one of my fondest memories of their childhoods. Sitting in the hallway, a child on each side of me and the baby in my lap. My older children were 8 & 9 and they still joined me for this nightly ritual with the 'baby' who was 4.

My oldest (DD) was reading by herself by the age of 4. At 8 yo, she was reading fictional books aimed towards the 12-14 age group. She read "Mississippi Writings' (complete Mark Twain) at the age of 10.

Oh, and she is ADD ....reading was the one area that kept her attention.

My boys are big readers also, although they 'hid' it until their teens.

My children are all adults now and are still very big readers.

Just as important as reading to your children is to let them see YOU read every day. The newspaper, on your kindle, et al Lead by example.

Alice - posted on 01/28/2011

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Here's my advice: get some sturdy board books that your son can't destroy and pick your reading time carefully. Choose a time to read to your son when he seems ready for a quiet activity. Don't expect him to sit still and listen raptly at first. He might like bath books which he can play with and have read to him while he's taking his bath. I encourage you to place baskets of indestructible books all around your house so that he'll start to see books as part of everyday life. Also, read books yourself in front of your child. Pretty soon, he'll be wanting to mimic your behavior. Finally, see if there's a story time for toddlers at your local library. Then you can see how other kids his age are interact with books and reading.

Liz - posted on 01/28/2011

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don`t stress,they only have the attention span of a very short time.i have 3 kids my 8 year old has always loved books from 6 weeks and is very good at ready,my 6 year old boy took longer to sit and read a book he would wonder off and play while i still read to my girl,now my 2 year old she dose the same as your little boy she rips it out of my hands too,but its ok.just enjoy you`ll get there.

Katie - posted on 01/28/2011

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at that age you do not ness. actualy read the words in the book but rather look at the book together and ask him to find a picture in the book or show him the pictures and you can make up a story together. you may also want to try the board books or a baby interactive book that you cant tear the pages in it.

Ayuki - posted on 01/28/2011

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Hi mom maybe 1 thing you should do is... try do not use book when u read story,etc for your son.... just use your imagination to make story for him i think he will like it good luck

Maria - posted on 01/28/2011

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It gets better at about 2 and 1/2 years but the ripping of books continues till about 4,5 years old when they learn the value of loosing their stuff.

Keep reading to them no matter what because after having four sons and not reading to my first who is now twenty i can see the massive difference to my thirteen and eleven year old sons who not only read daily but comprehend read information better.

Camilla - posted on 01/28/2011

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My son ripped up most books he had when he was little, and also riped them out off my hands. It goes away. Now he´s six and I still read to him, and he loves it

Fiona - posted on 01/28/2011

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Don't force it, it will come. Leaving books around is enough for them to know that books are a big part of life. I used to simply make up stories when my boy was that age (and for some time after) as the tempation to rip a book is simply too much for a boy :).

He loved my stories as they were interactive, for example I could use his bear as a part of the story and do actions with the bear as they went for a drive together or had a picnic or whatever! Loved it when I pretended the bear was talking to him.

BTW, did the same with his sister, now 6 and reading Enid Blyton to herself at night. So don't worry about him "falling behind" if you don't start now (whatever that means...).

Floreta - posted on 01/27/2011

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Looking for a book with colorful pictures of animals, flowers. Tell you what animal or flower that is shown on the book. Repeat the name animal several times ..... to see if he likes.

Judy - posted on 01/27/2011

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I began reading to my son when he was around 18 months. he did the same thing your child did, but I persisted. Now he is 6 and attempting to read chapter books. I personally taught him to read and he has resisted me the entire way through, but I keep at it. It gets better, but only through repetition. With repetition, habits form and your child will grow accustomed to reading.

Kate - posted on 01/27/2011

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I have experienced this with two of my 6 children. My youngest is now 3 and has just started letting me read and finish the story without him touching the book. Some things I have tried was giving them a board book to hold while I read another story. Putting them in the high chair and sit away from them while I read. Reading to them when they are in their cribs. This has been helpful with all my children. Some kids just take longer than others. Keep reading, he'll settle down.

Michelle - posted on 01/27/2011

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Cardboard books with rhyming and big bright pictures work best for this age group. Many of my books have chew marks. Sometimes just pointing to the pictures is enough. Children this age love to have books read to them again and again. I left carboard books out for my kids to play with and look through the pages when they were your son's age. It won't be long and you'll be able to help him turn pages in a paper book. His attention span will grow soon. Reading Rockets is my favorite go to resource online for parent tips with reading.
I write a blog called Beginning Reading Help you may want to search for. It looks like you are getting a lot of advice here.

MISSY - posted on 01/27/2011

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I am sorry to hear that he isnt interested yet but my son wasnt interested until about 1. Now he LOVES books! Maybe try books that are interactive? Fuzzy animals or noisey buttons might catch his attention? Before you know it they are having you read the story over and over and over and over......I think as with all milestones and accomplishments they happen when they are ready.

Nyaradzoyashe - posted on 01/27/2011

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thanks for the question , i really need some advice too am in the same boat.... he seems to want to read it himself...

Patti - posted on 01/27/2011

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Sorry if I am repeating anything anyone else has said. Little time to write...have a 16 month too who is ready to wake up! Try board books which are readily available these days and made for little book rippers as you have. At this age your goal should be to familiarize your baby with the idea of reading and create a type of bonding to literature. Dont be bothered that your baby doesnt pay attention for too long and just read as much as he can "take" but try to be consistent and be sure you are using books recommended for his age so as not to turn him off. At 16 months, even books without text where you tell a bit about the pictures or recite rhymes might work better. Rhymes and repitition for young children is captivating and comfortably familiar for them. If you are good at storytelling, this is a wonderful additional method to help nurture a child's love for literature. Dont despair, if you can keep it up, before long you will have him begging for his nighttime story.

Anna - posted on 01/27/2011

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Board books from you local library!! If they dont have a good selection bother them to get more.

Does your local library have toddler time?? my son loves it as they sing, read, dance and have props to go with the books. AND ITS FREE.

I could brag and say lots more about my son and reading but all kids are different.... though varying the books and getting them from the library helps. We have borrowed some of the same books over 6 times as he loves them and we let him choose some.

Michelle - posted on 01/27/2011

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If he won't let you read a book to him, tell him stories. I made up silly stories, as well as stories that featured my children and the people and places they knew and loved. Until he is ready to let you read to him, this does just as well, I think. Also, try to involve him. If you have a monkey in the story, tell him it is eating a banana. Ask your child if he likes bananas. Anything to get him interested in stories. And stop when his interest is gone. You can start back later, but always stop if he is not interested. Let him learn to love stories; then, he will love to have you read books to him, and later to read to himself. Also, my oldest is 11 and an avid reader, but I still read to her. It is a very special time that we enjoy.

S - posted on 01/27/2011

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Don't worry about finishing the book. When I started reading to my son he would take the book out of my hands and try to tear the pages. What seems to work is setting up a routine, It's never to late to start one it will only take a little bit more effort on your part as he gets older. Once you have a routine in place it gets super easy. I suggest you get board books ( the big chunky ones). We also stop several time during the story to look at the pictures and colors that he points out. For the books he does have let him know in a firm tone not to tear books. Sit him for 1 min in a thinking spot. Tell him why he is there and explain in simple terms why he should not tear pages out of books. Do not let him get up until his min is up. What I do with my son is hand him one book while I read another.He now hands me the one he was looking to read after I'm done reading. We also have tons of books ( garage sales 25 cents or less) all over the house that he can grab and look at. Let him just play with the books and get used them as well. Hope this helps!

Becky - posted on 01/27/2011

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The more you read, the more you will create a love of reading within the child. Just keep at it! I let my daughter run around the room like a crazy person while I read. I agree with Sara, even if it doesn't seem like it, they are listening. My son (8 mos.) likes to grab the books and chew on them, so I let him have a book to play with while I read a different book. Good luck!

Angela - posted on 01/27/2011

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Have you let him choose the book? Maybe you could try another time of day--after a bath before bedtime? Also, it may have to be just looking at a book with alot of pictures in the beginning. How does he/she do at a library story time?

Maria - posted on 01/27/2011

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Try reading to him when he is going down for a nap or as he is settling down for bed at night. I am a mom of 3 boys. Now they are 13, 8 and 6 and I started reading to them when they were about 10 mos. old more for me than them! (Im not the best singer!) If you dim the lights and add a cadence to your voice they quiet down to listen. As they get used to it, they will sit quietly in their high chair (so they can't touch the book), then next to you and so on. When he can understand more, you can tell him, books have feelings too & if you tear them up, it hurts them & we can't read them anymore. It worked for me and all my boys still love reading! Good luck and have patience, this too shall pass, honest!

Erica - posted on 01/27/2011

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somthing that worked with my daughter was books that wereinteractive. Popup books that u have to pull, touch rubb,smell etc. They also have puppet books, likeones thay go on your fingers. Also reading with heightened enthusiasm. Acting it out with him. I did theses things when reading and it worked for me. Hopefully this helped along with the other great suggestions.

Angela - posted on 01/27/2011

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Good Night Moon is a great book to read to little ones at bed time. The words are short and to the point and on every other page there is a little mouse to hunt for. You can tell him you are going on a mouse hunt and for the first few 'reading' sessions, just help him find the mouse to get his interest. Then start adding the words.
I have twin girls that are now 5, but they sure liked to rip books too. I just put them on a higher shelf and kept the board books and plastic books where they could reach them until they were old enough to learn not to rip them.

Tracy - posted on 01/27/2011

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Board books are good. Also look for cloth books with textures that he is supposed to touch and feel

[deleted account]

Pick a shorter book, or only read short sections of a longer book. At 16 months, you can't count on an attention span of longer than a couple of minutes.

Stephanie - posted on 01/27/2011

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I see a lot of people recommend board books and so do I!!! Try to find one that has things he is interested in or likes (Elmo, bears, turtles, etc). Just start looking at them and he may be interested in checking out what you have. You could make up funny stories to go along with the pictures to get him involved (and maybe distract him from taking it away). You could try to make it a game if you really want to sit down and read with him but they are not going to sit for very long. My 3 year old is just now getting interested in sitting down and reading longer books. And he doesn't need to be sitting by you for you to read to him. They listen even if we moms don't think they are! Good luck and don't stress too much about it. Any exposure to reading is better than nothing!

Areba - posted on 01/27/2011

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i agree that we should start reading to our children from when they are infants. i have read to my daughter line by line and sometimes making up and just making this simpler, but mostly lines from the book and i had wondered if thats good for such small children. i had been reading fairy tales from when she was vey little. but i realized it was a good thing because since she turned 3 she started reading by herself! she couldn't obviously read each line but she knew the stories so well that she could recite them exactly the way do! she's almost 4 now and this continues everyday. she also reads to my parents :) i think reading to our kids is great for their development and the sooner we start the better.

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