13 Reading Ideas for the Child Who Needs to Move

by Melissa Taylor

Photo credit: Donald Iain Smith, Collection: Moment Select

Sitting and reading? It’s SO HARD for some kids. Including my oldest daughter.

When she started learning to read, I discovered that I had to get creative with the sitting part of reading — because it wasn’t going to happen, at least not for very long. Rolling around the floor, yes. Walking around the room, yes. So how could I forgo sitting still and still get her to read?

Here are a bunch of wacky ideas that worked.

1. Exercise Balls
Both my kids love sitting on an exercise ball to read. When we started, I made sure they could sit on the ball without falling off. Then I let them add a book. Bouncy reading — this is big fun.

2. Wiggle Cushions
Because the exercise balls are too short to reach our kitchen counter, we use wiggle cushions for those chairs. These are small disc-shaped pillows that allow for wiggles. This makes reading and doing homework at the counter much less painful.

3. Audiobooks
I can’t say enough good things about audiobooks. My oldest daughter (the wiggly one) really dislikes sitting and reading. Audiobooks, like reading aloud to her, give her the opportunity to pace, play, or draw while immersed in the story. Incidentally, she often reads the book after listening to it.

4. Walk and Read
You could call this pacing and reading. Remove hazards of course. (Like any cats that like to dart in front of a pacing child.) Help kids know where is safe to walk, then let them roam and read.

5. Potty Pages
Potty time is an excellent opportunity to get in some reading time. Leave a basket of books in the bathroom. And maybe some air freshener. Grandpas get to do it. Why not kids? Might as well take advantage of sitting, right?

6. Mealtime Reading
I know this isn’t the best for quality family dinners, but sometimes I let my kids read at mealtimes, especially when it’s just them and me. Like the potty, they’re sitting anyway so…

7. Reading Nook
A reading nook doesn’t have to be fancy, just a special area for reading. One of my daughters will plunk her special pillow down somewhere in the house and declare it her new reading area. (Until she discovers her next new reading area.) Try a carpeted area with pillows so kids have plenty of space to move, roll around, and wiggle while reading.

8. Indoor Swing
We have an indoor pod swing that is great for reading with slow movement. You can buy indoor swings that fit in doorways, but if it’s not a pod swing, check to make sure that your child won’t fall off while reading.

9. Frequent Breaks
Whether you’re reading to your kids or they’re reading to themselves, remember to take regular breaks for movement — jumping jacks, stair climbing, yoga stretches. Get the blood moving and see if that helps with focus. It should.

10. Fidgets
Do you know there are actual fidget products to help active kids fidget with their fingers instead of their entire bodies? I know — so cool, right?! You can make your own fidgets or buy fidgets at a learning store. These might include stress balls, pencil toppers, Mind Putty, or finger puzzle toys. Of course, make sure the fidget is helping them focus, not distracting them from the reading.

11. eBooks
You’ve watched your kids zone out on technology, right? (Scary!) Something about electronics totally mesmerizes our kids, even active movers like mine. Well, why not use it for good by having kids read on their technology?

12. Read in Bed
It’s practically breaking the rules, which makes this so fun. Get your kids headlamps, and let them bury under the covers with a good book. This motivates my kids like nothing else. Yes, you can stay up if you’re reading!

13. Exercise Bikes
I’ve discovered several schools that devote entire classrooms to reading and riding exercise bikes. If you have exercise equipment in your home, see if there’s a cardio piece that is safe to use while reading. That might just help your active child get more reading in — and improve their cardiovascular health.