Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Reading to Toddler

12 to 24 months:
When your child becomes a toddler, he or she will be able to sit through a book, IF he or she is interested in it. There are days Natalie will ask for ten books in a row and others when she can't sit still for two pages. Despite the antsy busyness of a toddler, try to still ready every day. Bed time is a great time for adding reading because it usually a calmer part of the day. I've also had success reading to Natalie while she is in her high chair eating.

Toddlers have opinions about the books they like and will ask to hear favorites again and again. Be prepared to read the same book three (or ten) times in a row. Try to bring into the home a variety of books, but respect what your toddler likes. A perfect example: My daughter wouldn't give Where the Wild Things Are the time of day the first couple of times I tried to read it to her, then it became the must read bed time book for several months. Expose your child to new books, but respect what they like, need, and want.

Toddlers love gimmicky books. These include pop-ups, flaps, touch and feel, holes and windows, and sliders. Some of these books are really more toys, but others are still great stories. For example, The Very Hungry Caterpillar has various sized pages and dye-cut holds that my daughter loves to touch, but it is also a great little story teaching about days of the week, foods, numbers, and metamorphosis! Another perfect toddler book is Where's Spot? Natalie loves lifting the flaps and shouting "no!" when spot isn't there! Lastly, Open the Barn Door by Christopher Santoro (or a similar book) and Karen Katz's Where's Baby's Bellybutton? are other great flap book that helps teach animals and their sounds and parts of the body respectively.

I've often seen books based on TV or movie characters equated to trash. I disagree. While your child shouldn't only be exposed to such books, I see no harm in some titles that relate to shows or movies your child enjoys. The best example of an excellent TV show themed book is The Monster at the End of This Book starring loveable, furry old Grover. It is a funny and interactive story that just happens to have a Muppet as the main character. We own several other Sesame Street books that Natalie loves, and we also own three Yo Gabba Gabba books and a Ni Hao Kai-lan book. She might like looking at and pointing to her favorite characters, but I still am reading to her. All but two of the ten or so character themed books that we own teach something, be it shapes, the alphabet, seasons, animals, nursery rhymes, or going to the doctor. When you consider getting these books, just consider: Do we already have a lot of books like this? and Does this book do more than just promote watching the show?

Lastly, toddlerhood is a great time for books with labeled photographs. Toddlers are curious to ask what things are and to point out what they know. Natalie loves pointing to pictures of things she can say (like cup, kitty, and baby), but also likes having me name the things she recognizes that she can't say yet (banana, computer, phone). Reading where you are really pointing and labeling is a fun way to teach words at this age.

2 to 3 years:
Coming soon!

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