I mentioned in a recent post how Olive has not been a fan of reading for most of her 2 year life. It was an unexpected challenge for us because Charlie has always loved books so much. I’m certain that part of her speech delay is related to the fact that she wasn’t read to a fraction as much as we read to Charlie. But she was only interested in lifting flaps, turning pages, and throwing books for the longest time, never really listening to the story or sitting through an entire book no matter what we did.

A couple months before she turned 2 , we finally did something that worked — we started reading at the dinner table every night. Since the kids were already seated for dinner, it was the perfect time to read books. And because Charlie was there as well, Olive was much more likely to pay attention and be engaged. I think the specific books we chose were also important in capturing Olive’s interest (I’ll share why she loves specific books below).

Reading books at dinnertime has truly been a breakthrough. Now this former book hater asks us to read to her every single day, and we even use books as bribes!

Yummy Yucky - We started off with this as our first dinner book because Olive knew the words yummy and yucky. This board book has simple illustrations of things that taste yummy or yucky. We would make greatly exaggerated physical gestures when reading this book. For instance for something yummy like spaghetti, we would say, “yum” and rub our tummies. For something yucky like crayons, we would say, “blech!” and stick out our tongues. Olive thought it was absolutely hilarious and it made being read to so much more fun for her. Leslie Patricelli has several board books with this type of opposites storyline, and I think they’re all great!

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus – This Mo Willems book consists mostly of a pigeon getting increasingly frantic about wanting to drive a bus. Like Yummy Yucky, it was easy for us to over-exaggerate the dialogue and get Olive engaged. Olive ended up liking this book so much we also bought another book in the pigeon series, Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late. Now she constantly quotes the line, “I’m not tired!” from that book while running around the house.

Elmo’s Favorite Places – Olive still loves most of the interactive books I listed here, but her favorite ones right now are Elmo. There’s something about Elmo that all kids this age love, and if it takes a character to get your reluctant reader reading, I’m all for it! Generally I don’t like books that have as many flaps as this one on each page because then Olive is more interested in lifting the flaps than listening to the story. But now I make it a game and ask her to find specific objects on the page, which has really been helpful in increasing her vocabulary. We also have this Elmo’s World Flap Book Library set that I think is pretty bad, but Olive loves it. We do avoid lift the flap books at the dinner table, otherwise she just wants to lift the flaps!

Good Dog, Carl – This is a picture book that both Charlie and Olive enjoy. I think picture books are great because you can make up your own story and switch it up a little bit each time. We also like to ask the kids what they think Carl is doing, which is a great way to get them involved.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? – I think the meter of this book is very pleasing for kids. Olive will ask me to read this book 5 times in a row!

Ten Orange Pumpkins – Mr. Bee came up with the idea of a “pumpkin hunt” when Charlie was 2 to make walks around the neighborhood more fun. It is awesome October – December when there are pumpkins on many stoops because both kids enjoy pumpkin hunting so much. Olive learns best when we tie in real life experiences, so we got her this pumpkin book because she is obsessed with pumpkins. Although this is a counting book, the simple illustrations are appealing to children of all ages.  This is currently Olive’s favorite book and she asks us to read it to her multiple times a day.

Pete’s a Pizza – This is a fun book, but I don’t know why Olive loved it so much from the start. I didn’t think she understood the storyline and the illustrations are not particularly striking, but she asks us to read this book all the time.

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Anyone else have reluctant readers? Were you able to turn them into book lovers?