Reading To Toddlers

Reading to toddlers is crucial for language development. However, there is a right and wrong way to do it. Find out how below!

How To Read To A Toddler

If you have a minute, I HIGHLY suggest that you keep reading to learn how to read to your toddler first since reading is one of the best activities to encourage speech and language development. 

If you are in a hurry, check out my favorite toddler books now.

Tops 5 Tips When Reading to Toddler

1. Be Engaging

Jump into the book! Show enthusiasm about reading. Your love for reading will rub off on your child.

Have different voices for different characters. If something is scary, surprising, or funny, give the appropriate emotion. 

Why? You will capture your child’s attention and make reading a fun activity. Also, by varying your voice and showing emotion, you are teaching your child the definition of those emotions and what those emotions look like. 

2. Follow Your Child's Attention & Lead

Reading a book start to finish is beneficial because your child learns basic story structure but it is not necessary every time. If your child has lots of questions about a certain page or is extremely interested in certain pictures, stay on that page! Take advantage of a great opportunity to talk about new words and build vocabulary.

Why? When reading stories to your child, you are teaching literacy, speech, and language skills. This is the most important. Finishing a book is not crucial at this age.

3. Ask Questions & THINK OUT LOUD!

Ask your child "who," "what," "where," "when," and "how questions as you read. 

Allow your child to ask you questions. When you answer your child's questions, remember to "think out loud." Talk your child through your reasoning about how you came to an answer. 

Why? When you ask questions, you are practicing listening skills as well as checking for comprehension. By thinking out loud when you answer your child's questions, you are teaching your child HOW TO THINK. Pretty cool, huh?!

4. Make Predictions

Start from the beginning! Make predictions based on the book's cover. If your child doesn't have a prediction, make a prediction yourself and talk your child through your thinking. 

As you read the book, continue to make predictions (i.e., “What do you think will happen next?”)

Why? Predicting is a powerful language/literacy skill that will help with comprehension in school.

5. Introduce NEW Vocabulary

Enjoy all the vocabulary "help" you have from books. Books contain visuals, context clues, and many repetitions of new vocabulary words as you re-read the same book. These are all key components when learning a new vocabulary.

Use lots of adjectives. Relate the new word to something your toddler knows. Point to the object throughout the day so your child practices the vocabulary word in multiple settings. 

Why? Vocabulary development is important for SOOOO many reasons. Reading, writing, speaking and listening abilities to name a few...

Check out our favorite books for toddlers here.

If you are looking for a more in-depth discussion on this topic, please check out our FREE ebook!

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Have a younger child?  Top 5 tips When Reading To Baby

1. Point While Naming Pictures

Talk about pictures. Point to them as you name them. Your child will associate that word with its object. This is very important for vocabulary development.

2. Feel Textures

When reading touch and feel books, feel the different textures and encourage your child to feel them as well. Talk about how they feel. Use descriptive words such as "soft," "rough," "long," etc...

3. Let Your Child Turn The Page

Follow your child’s lead. Let him or her pick what page grabs their attention. When children are engaged, they learn faster.

If your baby starts to chew on a book, that’s normal. Let him. Talk about what he is chewing!

4. Describe Objects, Make Animal Sounds

Say “cow” and “moo.” Talk about the size and color of the cow. Your child will start associate concepts with objects. Great language start!

Words in baby books are for older babies and toddlers. Feel free to "write your own story" as you read the book. 

5. Simple Language

Use 1-2 word phrases. Talk slow. Exaggerate your tone, use “baby talk.”

Why? Your child will attend more to your speech. If you talk fast with long sentences, your baby will not pay attention to your words. Speech and language opportunity lost!

Check out our favorite baby books.

Let's Go Shopping

If you don't already have a nice collection, pick up some books for toddlers here, at the library, garage sales, or book stores (if you can find one!).

Read reviews of my favorite books for toddler

Read reviews of my favorite baby books

Please share your favorite books for toddlers below! We would love to read them!!

Bridget is an ASHA certified, practicing speech language pathologist. She is passionate about providing parents with information on child speech and language development as well as provide functional, easy activities to do at home! Parents have the power to make a real difference. Follow Bridget at Facebook and Pinterest for more fun!

Author of  child language development eBook series

› How To Read To Your Child