Tips for Reading to Your Toddler



Reading to your toddler helps to stimulate language development and exposes your toddler to new words that help build a large vocabulary and increases his attention span, memory, and listening skills.


Tips for picking books:


  • Let your child choose the books to read. This will encourage your child to take an active part in the reading process and will make certain the subject matter and stories will always be of interest to your child. Allow your toddler to help make choices at a library or bookstore, making her feel like a partner in the reading experience.
  • Choose books that feature topics related to your child’s current stage of development as well as his current interests. Fairly short books often work best for this physically active stage.
  • Choose books with wordplay, such as rhyme and playful sounds, to show your child inventive ways of using language.


Tips for reading to your toddler:


  • Ham it up! Make funny voices and sound effects. Children love the theatrical aspects of reading ‘in character’.
  • Let your child set the lead and turn the pages when he is ready. Your toddler is at an age where control is very important!
  • Ask simple questions about the illustrations, giving your toddler time to answer. If she doesn’t, answer the question yourself. Saying “Where are they going?” and “What is she holding?” elicit more language development than simple yes-or-no questions.
  • Use a variety of words to praise your child. Instead of saying “good job,” say “excellent,” “stupendous,” “wonderful,” or “amazing.” This builds her vocabulary and gets her attention.
  • Enjoy the times when your toddler wants to ‘read’ to you. He may be mimicking the inflections in your voice, and though it may sound like babble, listening with your full attention can build the confidence he needs to learn to read later.
  • Pause to let your child chime in with newly acquired language skills.
  • Begin to make connections among books, pointing out similarities.


Tips for reading time:


  • Let your child dictate the amount of time spent reading. This will assure you that reading never becomes tedious for your child and continues to be fun and exciting. As the activity becomes part of your child’s daily life, the length of time your child can listen and read will become longer and longer.
  • Let your child read the books over and over if they choose to do so. This encourages long-term memory vocabulary retention and will make your child an expert on the topic!
  • Create a ‘Reading Space’ in your home. A comfortable chair, a library of fun and interesting books, a fuzzy rug, anything that makes your child feel comfortable and ready to learn. Your child will know that entering this ‘Reading Space’ signals a learning mind set.
  • Make books a part of your daily routine. Your child will come to expect and look forward to this time. Start with a book or two before naptime and bedtime and add books as your toddler’s attention span increases.
  • Bring books along for challenging situations, such as waiting rooms and restaurants. Let reading be a source of comfort and a welcome distraction from the waiting.
  • Provide paper and crayons and let your child scribble and draw. Afterwards, encourage discussion about the picture. Using writing tools is an important first step in literacy.


Click on the links below to see reading tips that are just right for your child's age:


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