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Read Aloud Tips for Parents with Toddlers

| Tips

Sharing books together helps toddlers learn about the world and learn to talk. Toddlers have unique needs, though, so here are some read aloud tips especially for this age:

  • Do you watch your toddler buzz from one thing to the next like a little bee? To make the most of short bursts of attention, keep books where you and your child can reach them and grab a few minutes to read here and there. Your child might not always want to sit and listen for an extended period of time, but a quick look at his favorite pages of Roger Priddy’s First 100 Words before he dashes off is still reading! If your child can reach her own books, she’s much more likely to pull them out and page through them herself, too.
  • Reading aloud to a toddler will be more successful if you adjust your expectations and follow her lead. If your child wants to flip pages back and forth, or jump right to a favorite page, that’s okay! Toddlers can still listen to books even when they are moving, too. Songbooks like Carol Thompson’s Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes are great for wiggly days. Stop reading when your child gets distracted and try again later.
  • As busy as toddlers are, they also thrive with predictability, so aim to establish special reading routines. Whether you have the same signature toe-tapping routine each time you read Merrily Kutner’s Down on the Farm, read at the same time every day, or attend a weekly library story time. Repetition is comforting. Your child will likely help you maintain the routine by asking for what is familiar.
  • Speaking of repetition, that’s how toddlers learn, so try to indulge their requests to read the same books over and over, even if it’s tiring! Remind yourself this is a stage that will pass. One day, you’ll miss the familiar lines of Bill Martin, Jr.’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
  • Above all, keep the conversation going with your toddler. Pause to let him chime in before finishing a sentence or lift the flaps of books like Eric Hill’s Where’s Spot? and playfully ask questions he can answer with pointing, sounds, or words. When you’re playing at home or out in your community, reference words and phrases from books you’ve read.

To learn more about reading with your toddler, check out these resources:

How to Introduce Toddlers and Babies to Books

American Academy of Pediatrics Books Build Connections Toolkit

Reading Tips for Parents With Toddlers