Reading to toddlers

At the ages of one to three, children are eager for exploration and full of energy. Take every wonderful opportunity to blend cuddling and intimacy with learning and fun.

  • At this age, it is best to choose books your child likes.
  • Read for at least fifteen minutes every day. Thirty minutes is better. If you can read more than once per day.
  • Talk about the story as you read. If there are things that your child doesn’t understand, explain as you read. Relate the story to people, places and things your child is familiar with.
  • Get others to take turns reading to your child – grandparents, babysitters, aunts, friends – your child needs to see that everybody gets pleasure from reading.
  • Find music to accompany the reading time.
  • Keep books in places where your child can access them. Carry books along when you go to places where you may have to wait or when you travel.
  • As they discover that books provide information as well as entertainment, introduce books that expand your child’s understanding of their favorite subjects such as family, animals, colors, letters, vehicles, household objects. Toddlers like to look in your books or magazines to identify objects.

  • This a good time to introduce alphabet books or put magnetic letters on the refrigerator. Set up a blackboard and chalk or whiteboard and markers in your kitchen where you can talk and supervise your child as they write or draw.
  • Toddlers love predictable books that repeat catchy, rhythmic phrases. At this age, children and are interested in pictures that are large, clear and directly related to their world. You have probably found that they love to have the same books read over and over.

Suggestion: Do you allow your child to take along a favorite toy when you go out. Have your child select books to take along, as well. For 3 to 6-year-olds, check out this article.

Suggestion: Also, books do not have to be expensive or new to be effective. You can find good books by visiting garage sales and thrift stores.

Suggestion: Create an alphabet book with your child. On sturdy paper (preferably large size) print one letter of the alphabet in a bright color. Your child fills the page with words or pictures of objects that begin with that letter. These items can be drawn, cut or torn from flyers and magazines, and pasted on the page. Your child will not only enjoy this project but gain confidence from learning from its own discoveries and creations.

What can you do with infants?

Your child is never too young to be read to. Children do not have to understand the text of what you read to enjoy the warmth and security as you hold them close. When reading a book, newspaper or magazine you can read parts of it aloud. The rhythm of your voice is comforting and infants like the movement and sound of turning pages.

  • Set aside a special time for reading. For example, read a bedtime story every night.
  • Books for infants should have pictures filled with brightly colored objects that are familiar to your child. Infants will want to play with the pages, chew them and explore the book. Therefore, pages should be made of cloth, vinyl or sturdy cardboard. Some books have flaps that your child can lift, pop-up pictures that add three-dimensional looks, or buttons that will play music or squeak.
  • Infants require rhythm, repetition, and rhyme. Babies will enjoy simple action nursery rhymes like you would find in a Mother Goose book. This is poetry to help your child become more involved in the rhythm of language.
  • Children like to hear others imitate the sounds that animals make. Dare to ham it up when you read. Vary the volume, speed, and pitch of your voice along with the storyline.
  • Babies love to look at pictures of other babies.

Suggestion: Make up your own baby book. Fill the pockets of a smaller photo album with cutouts from magazines – colored pictures, especially of babies and familiar animals. Also include photographs that the baby will recognize and enjoy- family members, familiar pets, animal pictures and simple objects. Read here about reading to 6-9 year-olds.