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Reading with your Toddler

Reading with your toddler is a valuable way to spend precious time together.

It is also one of the most significant experiences to help your child learn language and literacy skills. Here are some key ways in which you can support your little one’s development of their reading ability:

Have books available at home and lead by example by reading yourself:

  • Give your toddler access to books every day and let them choose what book they would like to read. Looking at pictures and learning to turn the pages is part of early literacy.
  • Ask ‘what’ questions. Point to an item in a book and say, ‘what's this?’ or ‘what's this called?’ Repeat what your child says. Let your child know his or her answer is correct by repeating it back: ‘Yes, that's a snake.’
  • After children are comfortable answering ‘what’ questions, begin asking ‘open-ended’ questions: ‘What else do you see?’, ‘Tell me about...’, ‘How did that happen?’, and ‘What do you think?’
  • Expand on what your toddler says. Keeping the expansions short and simple. Build on their phrases just a little so that they are able to imitate what you've said. ‘Yes, you're right! That's a truck, a yellow truck.’ ‘What is that truck doing?’ ‘Yes, it looks like he is dumping mud into the hole.’
  • Read their favourite stories again and again. Toddlers love repetition!
  • Abbreviate the book if it has too many words, or just talk about the pictures. Many toddlers’ books have no plot so it's not necessary to read from cover to cover.

What Toddlers Like in Books:

  • Small books to fit small hands
  • Books with simple rhymes
  • Books with familiar items – shoes, toys, pets
  • Books with familiar routines – bedtime, bath time, meals
  • Lift the flap books
  • Books with very few words or with repeating words - books little ones can learn by heart
  • Goodnight books for bedtime

Barnardos have produced a short ebook for parents with more information on how you can support your child’s language and literacy development.

Download your free copy here.

This article was written by Barnardos for eumom.ie 


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