Children learn a lot when you read to them. Although those between the ages of 1 and 3 may not understand or have the attention span to sit through an entire story, they learn a significant amount from books.
They learn that someone cares about them. When parents read to children, the child is almost always snuggled up alongside the parent or sitting on his or her lap. It’s special time between parent and child.
They learn specific objects or information. Toddler books, for obvious reasons, contain a lot of pictures. Pointing to pictures, naming objects and asking toddlers questions about what’s on the page all help the child acquire specific information.
They acquire language. Children can hear before they can talk and they learn to talk before they can read. Reading to toddlers exposes them to higher levels of language.
They learn a love for reading. Reading comprehension is a major contributor to success in school (and in life). The only way to improve reading comprehension is to read. Give them a head start by reading to them early.
Now that you know why reading to your toddler is so important, here are some suggestions for making it work. The National Education Association recommends the following when reading to toddlers:
- Snuggle with your child and his or her favorite toy or blanket.
- Use expressions as you read. You can even use different voices for each character.
- Emphasize rhythm, rhyme and other literary devices, if age appropriate.
- Use pictures to teach vocabulary.
- Discuss what you read. Ask questions.
- Make reading a routine — just before bed, just after dinner, right when they wake up or whenever is convenient for both of you.
- Read books that interest your child. Let the toddler choose the book, if possible.
- Read the same book over and over. Kids love repetition.
These suggestions will make reading time special time.