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Why doesn’t my 18-month-old let me read books to her?
Jeannine Ronkonkoma
Just be patient, Jeannine. She’s pretty young to be a good listener. Toddlers that age tend to be in constant motion. They have to be doing something all the time. Turning and closing the book are actions, while listening is too passive for some children in that developmental period. Their movements are not too refined, so make certain the books you read to her are sturdy and not easily torn. My all-time favorite is “Pat The Bunny.” Throughout the book there are little things the child can do, and this greatly enhances story reading to a child as young as yours.

Until your daughter gets to the point where she can truly enjoy reading, try playing little interactive games with her, like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake. Ask, “How big is (your daughter’s name)? She is so-o-o-o big.” As you say “So Big,” raise your hands in the air. If she doesn’t spontaneously copy you, take her arms and raise them for her. Eventually you won’t have to demonstrate. She will throw her hands in the air before you get the question out of your mouth. Also, sing and dance with her, either to a record or to a child’s song that you sing. Make these games a fun time, and the learning will happen without your having to try to teach formally.
Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education