My daughter is 3 years and about 2 months old and a total books' child. She enjoys being read to very much. Recently I've started reading The Robber Hotzenplotz to her (a german children's book from the 1960s, for what it's worth). It has 100+ pages, is split to chapters and has very few pictures.

She enjoys to book being read to her very much and downright demands it, but I have the feeling that it's quite hard for her to follow the storyline, yet. We are reading some chapters every evening and before reading I do a short recap of the story so far.

Are there other ways I can facilitate to understanding of the story to her? I think that it can be beneficial to her if she learned to follow a longer story, but I do not want to enforce anything.

  • 1
    I have a 3 year old and older kids. I admire your determination. We are still reading goodnight moon and other short books here. I don't start chapters until maybe 5-6yrs old. I find it too hard for them to maintain interest before then and we read in evenings, to settle down often, so I want it relaxing for us all. I think the age they can do this and have it be very enjoyable varies by child. I don't do it until they can "remind" me what was happening when we left off. If they can tell me what we read last night, then I think that child is old enough for me.
    – threetimes
    Aug 22, 2017 at 23:01
  • I would ask questions every few lines, when appropriate. My daughter was pretty into the hobbit around 3 probably because I would read some, then ask her what she thought this person looked like, if they want to visit this place, etc. It took forever to get through but I just had enough of crap like the very hungry caterpillar. I'd still read those but adventured into chapter books early for my own sanity
    – Kai Qing
    Jan 23, 2018 at 21:55

3 Answers 3


Tell the story instead of reading it.

If you know the story or are able to read ahead and tell it using the same wording you use in normal interaction she might be better able to follow. With a little practice telling a story is even smoother than reading; you never miss-read a word, you find the lesson of the day works its way in almost naturally, and questions or interruptions don't break your flow as much.

The advanced version re-uses similar-to-the-story things throughout the day. "Let's go to the woods like Hansel and Gretel did. Do you think we'll find a witch? Let's take some extra pebbles in case we get lost.", "What big teeth you have, do you think you can eat this whole sandwich?"

  • You gave me a chuckle. We once got "in trouble" because without thinking about it, I let my kids leave a "bread trail" on a trek through our local nature preserve. I was thinking all fun & stories and whimsical. The rangers were thinking we were violating the "don't feed the animals" signs. The ranger was right. Oops.
    – threetimes
    Aug 24, 2017 at 2:44


For my son is really hard to follow a history, to help him we began roleplaying each history instead of only reading or showing pictures. This help him alot remembering what happend in each book and choosing his favorite. It's really taxing but alot of fun.


My 3 year old (almost four now) is like this. What I’ve noticed:

While he still loves all of his old shorter books too, he is perfectly able to handle longer books with chapters (such as Winnie the Pooh, or Roald Dahl books like James and the Giant Peach or Fantastic Mr. Fox). However he usually needs to hear the same story two or three times before he really gets it, and he likes to hear the story probably 30 times before he gets tired of it. We have read all of Fantastic Mr. Fox nearly every day for the last month. He now likes to recite the book to himself while he’s playing.

Like you, I also don’t want to push it, so I usually ask him what he wants to read. Sometimes this means short board books which we have been reading since he was born, sometimes it’s longer chapter books. However, he obviously only knows of the books he has already read, so it is my job to introduce him to something new. When I find a new book I would like to read with him, I say “mommy wants to read this one tonight for a little bit, but then we’ll read two books that you pick out,” and he’s usually pretty happy with that. I will read a few (maybe 10) pages and keep an eye out to see when he stops paying attention. Usually he won’t like the book much the first time, but if I wait a week or so, then he will ask for it because he remembers the little bit we read and wants to see what happens next.

If it was too advanced for him, he doesn’t ask to continue with it. This has happened with Harry Potter, Ralph S. Mouse (though he liked the first one - the mouse on the motorcycle), and Rascal. Those books have been shelved and we’ll come back to them in a few months and try again. But he’s enjoyed all of Roald Dahl except The Witches and Matilda, as well as Winnie the Pooh, Alice in Wonderland, The Dragon in the Sock Drawer, and even How to Train Your Dragon (though with that one he frequently stops me to ask why the characters are doing things like banishing their children etc).

Ps - something that really helps him engage with a book the first time through is if I read each character with its own exaggerated voice and mannerisms.

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