Learning to read starts at birth and continues as your child grows and develops. Spending time reading aloud to your toddler stimulates their brain development and imagination, which provides a foundation for learning success.
Why read together
Reading books aloud to your toddler helps your toddler learn to read. Your toddler is developing skills such as:
- Vocabulary development
- An understanding of language, both spoken and written
- Fine motor skills (turning the book pages)
- An understanding of reading left to right
- A love of reading
Selecting toddler books
When looking for toddler books, look for ones that are small and sturdy. Books should help your toddler explore and understand the world. Consider books that have:
- Pictures of animals. Toddlers love books with animals doing things and making animal noises.
- Relatable experiences. Experiences such as playtime or bedtime are great toddler book choices.
- Rhymes and repetitive phrases. When books rhyme and are repetitive, your toddler can easily memorize the book and read along with you. It also helps your toddler learn how language works.
- Brightly colored pictures of simple objects. Toddlers enjoy looking at engaging pictures of things they recognize in their lives.
- Interactive engagement. Pop-up books and books with various textures are a great way to engage toddlers in reading fun.
Toddler reading tips
Encourage your toddler’s love of learning and development of pre-reading skills by:
- Keeping a variety of books available and easily within reach.
- Letting your toddler pick the book. They will be more interested if it’s their choice.
- Finding a quiet place to read so you can snuggle and enjoy the book together.
- Letting your toddler turn the pages.
- Letting your toddler point to and say what they see.
- Pointing to the words as you read them.
- Using silly voices and making fun noises while you read the book.
- Talking about the pictures and asking questions like, “What do you think the puppy will do now?” while you read the book.
- Reading the pictures, not the words. Telling your own story from the pictures in a book is a fun way for you and your toddler to enjoy reading together.
- Being patient. If you don’t make it through the book, that’s fine. Your toddler will be able to sit longer and listen to books more as they grow.
Encourage the love of reading early. It will help nurture your bond, their vocabulary and their imaginations.
For more information, check out Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
- 10 ways to promote your child’s reading skills
- Toddler talk: Ways to encourage language development
- When imitating others, toddlers learn new skills