Google+ Raising a Trilingual Child: Child rips books apart: What should we do when reading becomes a book eating?


Friday, July 11, 2014

Child rips books apart: What should we do when reading becomes a book eating?

Does your child sit still and listen to the book you read or stays with you for a second and then starts running around picking up toys to play?  Or perhaps, even worse, he is chewing on the books checking how they taste?
In Bilingual children: How to read to a baby?  I gave some  tips on how to keep your child's attention while reading;  and I am very excite to introduce Alicja Pyszka-Franceschini, who is raising a trilingual child in Polish, English and Italian. Today she’s sharing  some great ideas on how to help you to deal with little lions at home :) 

"I really would like to read to my toddler but it’s really difficult. She moves so much or when I start reading to her she grabs the book and tears it apart,” a friend of mine said to me. I really knew what she was talking about as my little toddler was doing exactly the same thing. Pulling, biting and tearing the pages ferociously as if turning into that young and wild lion that I’ve just attempted to read to him about.

Reading is important. It is necessary. It feeds imagination and language development so there is little choice really in the matter. It must be done.

What should we do then when the reading changes into a chaotic feast? 

I went on a mission to look for times when I can peacefully read to my son, get the most of his attention and save the books from being damaged. I had a few Eureka moments and from then on reading has become much loved by my son and easy for me and my husband. Here are our favourite times for reading:  

In the morning, during his milk bottle time – I put my son on a sofa, give him a bottle of milk, sit down next to him and we go through as many as 4-5 short stories. He learned to like this morning routine so much that the books are read more than once even after the milk is finished. He likes to choose the order in which they are read too.

In the afternoon, after a good running in the garden or after being in a playground – Even the strongest and most moving of toddlers like to have a bit of downtime. When I notice that my boy would be happy to have a sit down, I take a book or two to the garden, I sit on the grass or a blanket and I don’t need to wait too long for him to turn up to snuggle under my arm for a story to be read to him. He usually turns up with his favourite ball in his hand and so he leaves the books for me to hold.  

In the evening, again during his milk bottle time – We perch on the carpet or again on the sofa and we repeat the morning routine. Brushing teeth, pyjama wearing and lullaby singing come afterwards. I tried to read to my son when he was already in his bed or cot but that only distracted him and made him want to climb out of his cot.

I love these moments not only because of the opportunity to read and explore the stories but also because of the harmony that they give to our days. They restore the balance to our day and keep me sane.

When do you like reading to your child?

What is your best strategy to save the books from the "little lions"?

Woman holding a baby
Alicja is a mum and a researcher with interests in multilingualism, diversity and child development. She is originally from Poland but is now living in the UK working on her research. In her free time she is a writer and photographer for Postcards Without Stamps, a personal blog that deals with questions related to motherhood, consumerism and lifestyle choices. 

You might also like reading:

Multilingual Family: Planting a language tree. Does passive language learning work?

Walking with your bilingual baby and showing him the world

Being proactive in exposing your bilingual child to the new vocabulary

Teaching the letter sounds before letter names


  1. Hi , my native language is hindi.can i read my son in english amd speak to him in hindi.

    1. Yes, it is a good idea in case Hindi is the comminity language and you teach your child English. Listening to and singing alone with children's songs in English is also great for language learning. You could read paper books that also have audio books in order to allow your child hear other English speakers reading. Check the 19 great websites with FREE Audio Books and Stories for children in English. Good luck!