As your little one grows, spending time with books becomes increasingly important. Reading to your toddler helps them learn new words and understand stories. Making books a part of your daily routine gives you time to not only help your toddler learn to love books but spend time cuddling and relaxing together.
5 Tips for Reading to Toddlers
1. Make reading fun. Regardless of what stories you read, what your toddler does while reading or how much of any given book you actually read before your child loses interest, make the act of reading enjoyable. Your toddler should be learning to love books, language, stories and reading.
Find books that include your toddler’s favorite things, whether bugs, trains, trucks or dogs. Let your child choose the books they want to read and give them the opportunity to flip pages or add words they know, even if the story doesn’t end up in quite the right order. Give different characters unique voices. Find books with rhymes, animal noises and sing-song lines.
Your toddler may also love stories about kids with similar emotions, situations and experiences to their own. Offering books that talk about everyday challenges can help your little one navigate changes in their own life.
Making reading fun for everyone may even increase your toddler’s attention span.
2. Focus on the story. The exact words and order don’t matter. Instead, describe pictures, repeat pages your toddler loves and choose books with vivid images. As your child gets older, words and order will matter more, but for now, the story is much more important.
Talk about the story with your toddler, asking them what they think will happen next or to describe an image. Keep things interesting by substituting your child’s name for a character’s name.
Acting out the story or playing with a quiet toy can help a kid who can’t sit still listen to the details as you read out loud. Even after the books are put away, encourage the stories your toddler creates while playing with toys and friends.
3. Add reading to your daily routine. Prioritizing reading now will help your toddlers love reading, writing and learning as they get older. Even if it’s just a few minutes (until your child’s attention span increases over the coming months and years, a few minutes may be the only possibility), make sure reading is a part of every day.
Different kids will enjoy reading differently. Your toddler may love snuggling on the couch and looking at each picture in the morning, falling asleep to a story at bedtime, or playing with a toy while listening after dinner. It doesn’t matter how your family makes reading a part of your day, as long as it’s a routine.
Go beyond books when reading to your toddler. Point out words on street signs, read out loud while you follow recipes and repeat items as you cross them off your grocery list.
4. Eliminate distractions while reading. Turn off the TV, put away phones and pause the music. Quiet toys, coloring and moving around are completely fine while reading and may even help your toddler focus on the story you’re telling.
Toddlers don’t need parents to look at pictures or “read” the parts they know. Make sure books are still accessible to the little hands in your house. It should be easy for your child to spend time reading when they want to!
5. Start to encourage reading. When reading to your family, follow words with your finger as you say them out loud. Even if your toddler isn’t identifying specific words yet, you’re teaching them skills that will help them as they begin to read on their own.
Rereading a book or page over and over and over again is completely normal. This helps toddlers associate what they see with what they hear. Soon, they’ll be able to recite their favorite stories themselves.
Alphabet books are great for introducing letters and the unique sounds each one makes. However, toddlers don’t need to memorize the alphabet for the sake of memorizing. Instead, focus on relating letters to everyday objects, feelings and words.
Tried and True Toddler Books
- Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
- Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin
- Fast Food by Saxton Freymann
- Freight Train by Donald Crews
- Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio
- Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch
- Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
- The Family Book by Todd Parr
- Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Take a Trip to the Local Library
Keeping your book collection fresh can be a challenge for parents of toddlers who love to read or lose interest in a book quickly. The local library is a great way to enjoy new books without purchasing them.
Head to the Lancaster Public Library, located just around the corner from Childrens’ Kastle. Of course, you can check toddler books out. You can also enjoy programs like Lapsit Story Time, Toddler Time and Kidding Around Yoga, created just for young readers!
Also nearby is the Julia Boyer Reinstein Library, which is home to an ongoing book sale with new and gently used materials. There are no guarantees, but you may be able to find your family’s next favorite for just a few dollars.