How We Define “READING” with Toddlers


When experts recommend reading to your toddler, “reading” should be loosely defined as any interaction with a book that involves both you and the child. That might look like just flipping the pages while you frantically try to label a couple of pictures OR just opening and closing the book and teaching them to hold it the correct way OR “reading” might mean just teaching them not to rip pages or eat the book! However “reading” is defined with your little one, keep doing it! Daily exposure to books will turn into a lifetime love of reading. I see it happening in my own children. My girls have always enjoyed looking at books even from a very young age, my son was the one I taught “book manners” to as a toddler. He wouldn’t sit in my lap for more than a hot second when he was 18 months old during our nightly book routine but now has a fierce love for books and frequently asks to visit the library. So keep trying, your efforts will pay off. Those active little ones are absorbing more than you know! And it’s important for them to see you enjoying books too…so read on, book worms!

If you want to attempt to engage your little one with books more, try one of these tips:

  1.  Don’t be an overachiever.  Make sure the books you are “reading” with your toddler are age appropriate.  Little ones like short board books that sometimes don’t even tell a story.  Instead the book may just label objects, animals, colors, etc.  And that’s okay!  Their little attention spans (and bodies) aren’t ready to sit for a complete story and that’s the way it should be.
  2. REAL photos are best.  Babies and toddlers will be interested first in books with real photographs.  In fact, making your child their OWN book by taking photos of their favorite toys, snacks, family members, etc. will instantly turn you into their favorite “author”.  Slip the pictures into a 4×6 photo album that they can carry their book around and look at anytime they want.
  3. Get silly.  Just naming pictures may not be enough to hold your child’s attention.  Try making the book more interactive by responding with a tickle when your child turns the page or maybe when your child touches the spider on each page you make a silly face and exclaim, “Ewwwww!”  Or better yet, make up a song and as you turn each page the song continues!
  4. Capitalize on your child’s interest.  Even young toddlers express toy preferences by often gravitating to the same toy and type of play.  Take them to the library and help them find books with a favorite animal or character that may peak their interest enough for them to sit in your lap to look at the book with you.
  5. Limit distractions during your daily reading time.  Some kids may never choose a book over a screen but if the tv is off, your phone is out of sight and the iPad is put away during book time, they will learn to love books just as much as screens.

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents” – Emilie Buchwald



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