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6 Simple Tips for Reading to Toddlers

6 Simple Tips for Reading to Toddlers

Research shows that reading with children is an important way to develop literacy and to help build a lifelong love of reading. The reality of reading to an active toddler, however, can be a challenge for parents. Here are some tips for reading to toddlers.

Tips for Sharing Books with Toddlers

Choose Timing Carefully. There is no doubt that most toddlers are constantly moving and engaging in active play. And, getting them to switch gears or settle into a story time can be a challenge when they are playing. Choose a reading time that works best for your child – after a long play session, prior to bed, after a bath, after a walk. If your toddler struggles with transitions, give your child cues by letting them know what’s coming next (“After we play these musical instruments for 5 more minutes, we’ll read this book and then have lunch.”).

Tips for Reading to ToddlersSelect Children’s Books Based on the Child’s Interests. Like adults, children want to read books that are interesting to them personally. Select books based on your child’s interests – trucks, dancing, princesses, animals, etc. Or, have kids choose their own children’s books at the library or book store. To keep it interesting for kids, rotate books in and out of your child’s bookcase. Kids – and parents – will love finding a favorite that hasn’t been read in awhile.

Bring Stories to Life. Some toddlers may show very little interest in reading even when the book is based on his/her interests. Try bringing the story to life using funny voices or sounds, acting out the book, using puppets (even a simple sock puppet!), or singing the book. This is also a helpful way to liven up your toddler’s favorite book that she insists on reading over and over again. Or, you can choose interactive books that let kids explore with flaps, sounds, textures, etc. as another way to engage kids in reading.

Have Realistic Expectations. Toddlers get distracted very easily and may not sit through an entire book. If your toddler only wants to read for a few minutes, that’s great. Within reason, let your toddler guide for how long you read.

Let Children Explore Books & Ask Questions. Although it can be frustrating, a toddler who is persistent about quickly turning pages or asking many, many questions is actively learning. In fact, encourage your child to explore books by including them as part of their play area and asking questions while reading. This is how toddlers learn about the world all around them. Susan Brenner, Senior VP of Education at Bright Horizons, offers this solution for page turners – “You really like turning pages. Let’s turn all the pages and then we’ll go back and read the story.”

Read with Kids Often. Even if it’s a few short minutes a day, try to read often with your toddler. Like brushing your teeth and using the potty, make reading a part of your child’s daily routine so it will be come an expected habit and a fun family tradition.


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