How to Read to an Overactive Child?

7 ways to develop the reading habit in overactive children

Some children are just more active, enthusiastic, and bouncy than average. They are spirited like an intense ball of energy. Unfortunately, the high amount of energy these children have gets in their own way, hindering their ability to accomplish things. It is challenging for an overactive child to complete tasks that demand patience and alertness. Reading is one such activity that requires a calm mind and attention. But by harnessing the child’s high energy in a positive, mindful manner, they can become an avid reader, incredibly creative and productive.

Who is an overactive child?

A child who possesses more energy than most children of their age is considered an overactive child. The unique characteristics of an overactive child are as follows:

  • The child is a ball of energy.

The child has excess energy that makes her or him fidget. Due to this high level of energy, she or he has low concentration levels. The child gets distracted easily and is unable to complete the task at hand.  

  • The child has a wandering mind.

As the concentration span is shorter, the child tends to get lost in her or his thoughts. As a consequence, she or he has weak listening skills.

Some of the unique characteristics of overactive children: they are ball of energy, they have wandering mind, they are over-enthusiastic, have high emotional range.
  • The child is over-enthusiastic.

As an overactive child contains high energy, she or he is impulsive, zealous and likes to do everything faster.

  • The child has a higher emotional range.

An overactive child experiences a higher range of emotions in a shorter time than other children. She or he goes through sadness, worry, restlessness, happiness, and excitement in a small amount of time. 

7 ways to Read to overactive children

If your child is (indeed) overactive, you can conduct constructive reading sessions with your child by following these tips:

  1. Reading sessions conducted after outdoor activity.
Conducting reading sessions after outdoor activities helps an overactive child stimulate the production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin that are crucial for impulse control, learning, focus, and attention

A simple walk amidst nature or an hour-long swimming session will help to burn out the excess energy in your child’s body. Moreover, physical activities stimulate the production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin that are crucial for impulse control, learning, focus, and attention. You can also make reading a part of the morning and night-time ritual when the child is feeling all relaxed.

2. Create a warm and welcoming book nook!

A warm ambience and a welcoming book corner is also one of the ways to develop the reading habit in kids

Ambience plays a significant role in setting up the mood. Therefore, create a reading environment for your child which is devoid of distractions. Place different books, stationery and indoor plants in the reading corner to make it inviting. Design the corner in a way that it radiates warmth. Or maybe build a reading tent in the designated space with lots of couch pillows (Eric Carle’s pillows, Book Nook pillows) for relaxing reading session/s. 

The key is to create a warm and welcoming space with limited distractions possible. The space got to be inviting for the child and parent (both).

3. Play some soothing music in the background!

Play soothing music in the background can help an overactive child focus and developing the habit of reading becomes easy.

Instrumental music lowers energy levels and regulates emotions. Exposing your child to such music can help her or him to calm down. Your child might associate reading with music and consider them as pleasant activities that go hand in hand.

4. Direct your child’s excess energy into activities accompanying reading!

To develop the reading habit in an overactive child Kinesthetic learning has proven to be the best form of learning for an overactive child.

Kinesthetic learning is the best form of learning for an overactive child. If your child starts fidgeting and they are losing interest, engage them in activities like 

  • Enacting a character from the book. 
  • Raise their curiosity by asking them to predict the story. 
  • Make props or portraits or bookmarks of the characters and utilize them during the reading sessions to enhance the reading experience. 

This way, you gain your child’s undivided attention to the reading session as you convert the passive act of reading to an active act of role-playing.

5. Begin with the easy stuff!

To develop the reading habit in overactive children begin with easy and short books! It encourages a feeling of accomplishment and boosts your child's confidence.

Always begin with easy and short books. Since an overactive child struggles with focusing on a larger span, she or he will feel motivated to have completed the book. It encourages a feeling of accomplishment and boosts your child’s confidence. Once the reading habit is in place, gradually move to books of higher level. 

6. Chapter books over picture books

How to read to an overactive child? Prefer chapter books over picture books

Being mindful in the book selection is crucial. Chapter books with more words work better over the picture books. Children who have difficulty focusing find it challenging to sit down still with a book and read. So, let them BE, let them wiggle and bounce the extra energy out, and you keep reading. Remember, they are still listening while bouncing around; they still hear the words.

7. Be patient with your child.

How to read to an Overactive child

It is easy to get frustrated and annoyed by a spirited child’s energy. In most cases, the first reading attempt is a failure. Practice patience when you read to your child. Do not hesitate to read the same book twice or thrice, multiple times. Remember to see an overactive child’s energy as a positive thing and embrace them just as they are. I genuinely have a soft spot for overactive children. 

Consider these tips as a few ideas to formulate a customised reading plan for your overactive child. Children who have difficulty focusing find it challenging to sit down still with a book and read. So let them BE sometimes, let them wiggle and bounce the energy out and remember they are still listening while bouncing around. And don’t forget to compliment your child on having completed a reading session successfully. Encourage interactive reading sessions with your child and help her/him participate with enthusiasm and vigour. Through these efforts, you would raise an inquisitive reader in no time.

I wish you a beautiful bonding time while reading to your child and rooting for you dear parent that all your reading sessions happen with ease!

Read. Raise. Rise.


How to Select the Right Book for your Little One!

How to select the Right Book for your child by Pallavi Prakash Kumar at She Narrates

Let us read more
Let us read to the little ones more,
Let us inculcate the habit of reading
Let us gift the little ones the comfort of reading,
Let us all thrive
Let us all help the little ones thrive,
Celebrate, it’s Autumn, the season of pumpkin spice!

If you already don’t know, we are hosting Autumn Reads from 1-7 October as all the book-lovers across the world celebrate the Book Reading Week, 2020.
With Autumn Reads, we are inviting parents and caregivers to read to their children books for the entire week. If you have been connected with us for a while now then you know I am a mother to a 4-year-old, Pratham. 

For our book reading week, Pratham and I together have curated a list of books we will be reading. While designing the entire reading activity for him, I had in mind quite some dimensions. So if you want to join us for Autumn reads, or simply are looking for some suggestion on how to select the right book for your child, these are some of the things I had in mind and might help you curate yours:

  • Look Around for Inspiration: As the autumn season kicks in right in time with the World Book Reading Week, it inspired me to come up with Autumn Reads, signifying comfort reading. And Autumn Reads for me would be incomplete without a pumpkin story and to add to the momentum and the joy of reading in my little learner Pratham, Peppa one of his favourite cartoon character, in fact, the favourite character of almost all children including Pratham and me ☺, ‘Peppa’s Pumpkin Party’ was our first choice. So, just look around and you will find something you and your child can relate to!
  • Align with the Stage of Learning: Pratham is in his phonics building years, so any book that would stimulate his learning while he enjoys it would be a winner for me. ‘Anna Banana’ by Treehouse Tales written by Delyth Owen was our next pick. It has many consonant cluster/blending words and to reinforce his phonics learning (especially the grapheme-phoneme correspondence words). Treehouse Tales books- Oliver onion, Oriol orange, etc. are extremely useful and effective, I feel.
    Further to tap into the fun of Onomatopoeia Julia Donaldson’s (illustrated are by Axel Scheffler) book ‘A Squash and a Squeeze’ would be Pratham’s fifth book read, after ‘Room on the Broom’, ‘Charlie Cook’s Favorite Book’, ‘The Gruffalo Song and Other Songs’ and ‘The Snail and the Whale’.
    Look for what your child is currently learning and then find the books that complement his/her learning.
  • Go Straight to What They Already Love: Pratham’s love for animal and bird books is something I keep in mind before beginning with the book list curation. To name a few of his favourite animal and bird books are Bears, Tigers, Dogs, Owls, Toucans, and Pelicans. This time we have ‘Tiger’ by Nick Butterworth (@harpercollinsch) and ‘The Bumblebear’ by Nadia Shireen (@penguinkids @penguinrandomhouse), power-packed with colourful illustrations and creative narration. When our children already love an idea, a book on similar lines encourages their creativity and imagination many folds.
  • Include Daily-Life Lessons: One of the dietary requirements keeping in mind the little learners’ age, high protein is vital because kids on their feet, full of life are running around, jumping, playing, cycling, etc., so high protein is a must in the diet. I know you are wondering, how in the mid of the name of book lists, we are talking about high proteins! Because the theme for my next pick was to take Pratham one step closer to understanding the importance of a healthy nutritious diet. The next choice of the book in our bookshelf for Autumn is ‘Beans on Toast- The story of baked beans’ by Paul Dowling. And yes, Pratham likes beans, so to help him understand how it is sourced and how it comes to our plate in a story yet creative format, this was my pick for the reading week.
  • You can Never Go Wrong with Values: To encourage positive behaviour and moral values with the concept of invisible bucket my next book choice was ‘Have you filled a bucket today? – A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids’ by Carol McCloud. Along the lines of emotions and to encourage Pratham to express his feelings, be able to name his feelings, and associate with a colour, I am introducing ‘The Color Monster’ by Anna Llenas. ‘A Book of Hugs’ by Dave Ross to introduce him to various kinds of hugs there is. Let reading help you sow the seeds of positivity and good values!
  • Look for More Than Just Books: All books can form a basis for various fun learning activities beyond reading! Eric Carle’s ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’, one of the favourite books of all kids opted by young parents, is our pick also. I have planned a Lego creative activity for Pratham to be done after we’ve read the book. Activities like these double his excitement and help him remember and relate to characters and their stories for long!
  • A Power-Packed Book: Last but certainly not the least ‘The Wonderful Things You Will Be’ by Emily Winfield Martin would help me encourage thinking, listening skills and let his imagination run riot by asking some open-ended questions found in the cover page of the book “What will you grow up to be?”, “Will you tell a story that only you know?” and others mentioned in this book.

Learning needs to be fun and to encourage the love of books, consequently, the love of learning in my little learner, I curate books keeping in mind his interests first and then the activities that I can tailor the book reading time with, especially Lego building activity. I also look for ways to encourage his thinking and listening skills. Asking him open-ended questions helps him remain focused, which therefore helps in developing his concentration. I prefer storybooks because stories are the best way to kindle creativity, curious learning, build imagination, and create a natural curiosity about the wider world.

There’s one last tip, and probably the best one (save the best for last as they say!), team up with your little one while you choose the books. Let them take the lead if they are comfortable doing that. If they aren’t, then show them the book and ask questions and look at what they are naturally drawn towards. Building fun activities can be a fun activity itself!

Here’s the list of books for ‘Autumn Reads’ for Pratham:

  1. Tiger by Nick Butterworth
  2. Anna Banana from Treehouse Tales
  3. Beans on Toast: The story of baked beans by Paul Dowling
  4. A Book of Hugs by Dave Ross
  5. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  6. A Squash and a Squeeze by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler
  7. The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin
  8. Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud
  9. The Color Monster: a story about emotions by Anna Llenas
  10. Peppa’s Pumpkin Party

We await to see yours; Join us for Autumn Reads!
Happy Reading!