When I was in library school we learned Ranganathan’s 5 laws of library science.
When it comes to toddlers it is very important to remember the number one rule of libraries.
Books are for use.
Your toddler will be hard on books. They will eat them, throw them, try to flush them down the toilet and try to wash them in the dishwasher. They will leave them outside in the rain and step on them in the car.
Books will be loved by toddlers very hard and it’s okay.
Especially if you check out books from the libraries the librarians will understand.
One of the biggest problems I see when I work with parents and children is that parents want their children to respect books. Which is completely appropriate when the child is older. What can sometimes happen though, is books get put out of a child’s reach. Or a family doesn’t visit the library as often. Books are taken away too much because parents don’t know the number one rule of books.
They are for use.
I often hear parents say they will start reading when their toddler is more mature but by then it is too late to develop it into a loved routine.
Do not stop reading to your rambunctious toddler.
Start reading from birth and continue through the toddler years. Now is your chance to develop a deep love of reading with them. The time you spend now enjoying books together and making books fun builds a life long relationship between your child and books. Which leads me to my second point.
Toddlers are terrible audience members.
They are like the guy at the orchestra concert who brought popcorn and talks on his cellphone all night. Toddlers can be horrible listeners when it comes to books. They will sit on your lap then roam around the room. They will come back and drop on your lap and demand you keep reading and then go off and play. This doesn’t mean your child isn’t curious about books or listening to you read.
It means they are curious about the world around them.
So you have two choices:
- Pause while they explore.
- Keep on reading.
How often do you turn on the TV or radio and do another task? A lot, right? So be the background noise for your toddlers. Hearing your voice is an important piece of language development. Keep on reading. Sooner or later they will tire out and come back over for a cuddle.
Here are a few tips to keep story time enjoyable with toddlers:
- Pick short books. Board books are still appropriate at this age or you can start to introduce books with one or two short sentences per page. This is not the time to break out Shakespeare. Keep it simple.
- Rhyming books are perfect for our burgeoning speakers. Find books that play with word sounds.
- You don’t even have to read the words on the page. It is okay to tell the story without reading the words. Point out the pictures and tell your own story. The best part, you get to pick when it ends.
- Stories in songs! Toddlers love music. There are a lot of great picture books that illustrate well known songs. As your child explores you can keep singing.
- Find a good routine for reading. Use reading as a calming down activity before nap time or bedtime. It’s a time when they are naturally sleepy and more willing to sit.
- Keep reading fun. If your child isn’t interested in a story right then, no worries! You will have plenty of opportunities to share a story. Never make a child sit still to listen to a story. Make reading fun and flexible.
- Concept books are perfect for this age. There are tons of great books introducing color, numbers, shapes, sounds, etc. The skies the limit.
Toddlers are in an explosion of learning and physical growth. Reading is a critical skill during this time of rapid development. However, keeping it fun and interesting will ensure your child is a happy reader in years to come.
Great books to read with toddlers:
This is a great book to read with toddlers. It is interactive and helps them build vocabulary surrounding the body. If you buy the book it helps to reinforce the flaps with tape so you can enjoy it for a long time.
This series is great for building word sounds. All the books rhyme and follow the adventures of mischievous sheep. You can add to the experience by finding rhyming words of your own with your toddler. They won’t be able to make rhyming words on their own yet but your example will help them in the future.
Karma Wilson is my absolute favorite children’s author. She pairs with great illustrators and really understands what kids like and need to hear to become future readers. She has fun with language and creates books kids love. This book is a concept book focused on colors and will fit the attention span of your toddlers.
What books does your toddler love to read with you?