Toddler Story Time- 3 Easy Tips

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Developing a love of books at a young age is a fantastic step to creating readers and writers in our children.  Many experts will tell you to begin reading to your child from day one.  Most parents are looking for childcare providers who provide a literacy rich environment during the day.

Story time is a great way to introduce young children into the joy of books.  But, what do you do if your daycare children aren’t interested in books?  Toddlers have short attention spans and many are too busy walking, dancing, squatting, rolling, running, reaching, stacking, etc. to stay in one spot long enough to look at a book.

Even if your toddlers aren’t interested in story time, they might be tomorrow, so keep those books available.  You may have other children in your home daycare who are interested in listening to a story. I allow the toddlers to join in or leave story time as they see fit.  Seeing other children engaged in a book is a wonderful model for the younger children.

Here are three easy tips that have worked well with a number of toddlers in my home daycare.

1. Location

Try conducting story time in a different location.  My toddlers love boxes.  They enjoy climbing into a box and having me read them a short story.  You could be elaborate and make the box into a prop from the story.  For example, the box could be the fire station from a story about fire fighters.


A simple sheet over a table is enough to entice my young ones into a reading adventure.


One summer day we ate snack and read stories in a tent in the backyard.  The children loved the change of scenery.


2. Involvement

Lift-the-flap, tactile, and spot-the-object books are specially designed for young children.  These books invite the child to be involved in the story.  Active involvement in a book will extend their attention spans. If you are reading a traditional type storybook think about ways in which you can involve the child in the story.  A toddler who can jump along with the characters will enjoy the book and the whole story time experience.


3. Busy Hands

Sometimes when we are pressed for time and I really want to fit a story into the morning, I’ll read it to the children while they eat snack. The toddlers are happy because their hands are busy and they stay focused on the book longer than normal.

I’ve also given children little toys to hold (stuffed animals that correspond with the story) while they listen to a book at story time.  A squishy toy or soft ball would also work to keep little fingers busy while listening to a story.  Of course, be careful of a small child putting squishy type toys in their mouths as choking hazards.


Toddlers are highly motivated to move and explore.  If their hands are busy exploring a toy it is easier for them to focus their attention on a story being told.


Toddlers who are exposed to regular group story time quickly become accustomed to the activity.  In a few months, they will be the ones plunking themselves down in your lap when they see you sitting down with a book.  Once upon a time……


  1. These are excellent tips! My 15 month old loves sitting in a box while I read to him, lol!

  2. Love the busy hands idea. I think that will help one of my little guys. Thanks!

  3. Great tips! Love the idea for little toys to hold. 🙂