It is getting colder and snowy outside. Winter is a perfect time to grab your toddler and snuggle together while reading a great book. Reading with your toddler sets the stage for improved language and social development. Research indicates that reading aloud to children can increase vocabulary and knowledge of the alphabet and leads to improved school readiness.
Don’t worry if your child can’t sit still for an entire book — toddlers’ attention spans will get longer soon. Try to keep reading even if your child moves around while you read.
You may find that your child sits still better while coloring or playing with a favorite toy. Don’t assume that because your child isn’t looking at you or the book that he or she isn’t interested or listening.
You want your child to have positive associations with reading, so if you are feeling tense or your child is resisting, consider setting the book aside and returning to it later. Make books part of your bedtime routine. Allow your child to touch and play with favorite toys while you read aloud. The sound of your voice will be soothing to your toddler.
Reading aloud should not be the only exposure children have to books. Toddlers enjoy choosing and looking at books on their own. Keep books in a basket on the floor or on a low shelf where your child can reach them easily and look at them by themselves. Keep books in the car and in your bag for long waits at the doctor or lines at the grocery store.
Check out community resources. Many libraries and bookstores have toddler story times that kids enjoy. But most importantly, let your child see you reading — he or she is sure to imitate you.
Here are some reading tips:
- Read whatever books your toddler asks for, even if it’s the same book every night for weeks and weeks (and weeks and weeks).
- Read slowly enough for your toddler to understand.
- Read expressively, using different voices for different characters and raising or lowering your voice as appropriate.
- Use puppets, finger plays (like the “Itsy Bitsy Spider”), or props while you read.
- Encourage your toddler to clap or sing when you read rhythmic, sing-song books.
- Talk about the illustrations. Point to items and name them. Then ask your child to name them with you and offer enthusiastic praise.
- Ask open-ended questions — “Why do you think the lion is going into the woods? What do you think will happen next?” This encourages your child to think about the story and to ask questions.
- Substitute your child’s name for the name of a character in the book.
- Have fun! Show your child that reading is enjoyable.
-The above article as well as more information about reading to your toddler can be found at www.kidshealth.org