Numerous studies have shown that children who were exposed to reading before preschool are more likely to do well in all facets of formal education later in life. As a parent, reading to your child is one of the most important things you can do to prepare them for school and beyond.
Here are my top ten tips to make reading fun for your toddler:
1. Make it part of the routine
Dedicate a regular time to read to your toddler, where they will have your undivided attention. Times when they are winding down or have a full tummy are great options. Make it a special time they can learn to anticipate every day.
2. Let them choose
Toddlers like to rule! Have a selection of fun books and then let your toddler select what book they’d like to read, and where they’d like to sit. Let them decide when they’ve had enough. Take a break, and try again at a different time to keep reading fun. Lift the flap books, noise-making books and ‘touchy feely’ books are great for this age.
3. Explore books together
Let your toddler turn the pages while you look at the pictures together. Don’t just ask them to name the things you see, rather point out things of great interest and comment on the pictures in front of you with enthusiasm.
4. Show your toddler how reading is part of everyday life
Read birthday invitations, shopping lists and toy instructions together. Point with your finger as you read the words.
5. Point out words
Help your toddler notice words and signs that are part of their everyday life by labeling things around the house: Boxes of ‘blocks’ or ‘dolls’, or places to put things that belong to them, e.g. ‘Maddie’s shoes.’ Although your toddler can’t yet read the word, seeing the word printed and understanding its meaning will get your toddler interested.
6. Take time to talk to encourage understanding
When reading, take time to talk to encourage understanding. Stop and predict what will happen next. Ask open-ended questions and link the story back to your toddler’s life. If you’re reading a story about animals, talk about what animals your child has seen.
7. Be silly!
Make lots of noise, use different voices and encourage your toddler to join in with the funny sounds or repeated phrases.
8. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
Repeating things helps your toddler learn, and by re-reading familiar stories your toddler is taking in new information each time. Ask your toddler to help you retell or act out a familiar story.
9. Allow them to experiment with pen and paper
Reading and writing go hand in hand, so let your toddler experiment with paper, pencils and erasers. Praise any attempt your child makes.
10. Show your toddler how books are a part of everyday life
Keep baskets of books within your child’s reach at home, in the car and in your bag so your toddler can look at books by themselves. Show your toddler that you like to read when you have a free moment, and they are likely to follow.
Want to know the best books to read to your child, as recommended by Speech Pathologist Lauren Reindhardt? See Best Books for 3-5 year olds…