Books can be introduced to children even before birth. Reading and books are essential to lifelong learning, and even though it is far too early to teach your toddler how to read, it is not too early to show them how important books are to you by reading to them and letting them see that you read and have books of your own. Just as children want to imitate you in the kitchen, they will want to imitate you reading.
Reading to your toddler is a wonderful way to develop language, foster curiosity, create conversation and share your feelings. Start off with some simple books with pictures. Find a special spot in the house, and read to your child with them sitting comfortably on your lap. Take it nice and slow and as what they think about the story. Ask questions like: “Where’s the puppy?”
The purpose of reading to your toddler is not to teach them how to read. Try and resist the temptation to drill them on letter recognition, colours or numbers. Let them take the lead. Through repetition, you will find that your child starts repeating things that they learned from their books.
Reading and bedtime seem to go hand in hand. A book and a chat are a great way to end your child’s day, and this tradition can continue throughout their childhood. Reading introduces your child to the pleasure of stories and the beginning of imagination and fantasy.
Tips for reading with your toddler:
- Give your child cloth books and glossy cardboard books to play with.
- Put a bookshelf they can reach in their room.
- Keep some of their books in your reading area, so they can see that you both read books.
- When you read for your own information, read out loud – recipes, shopping lists, the mail, etc.
- Point out printed words on stop signs, billboards and t-shirts.
- Read the large print on packaged goods together.
- Decorate with letters – an alphabet wallpaper boarder, for example.
(How Your Baby & Child Learns by Penny Shore)