Raising a Bookworm

12-18 Months

This is the age when children can really appreciate reading. Concept books become more meaningful, with ideas like up/down, big/little, and top/bottom. Children are learning more about themselves and the world around them.

In addition, the number of words kids can understand has increased so reading becomes more reciprocal as you encourage their language skills. You can ask, "Where's the ball?" And when they point to it, say, "Yes, that's a red ball."

Your toddler may also begin developing favorite books from her library. Be prepared to read a story again and again. In our house, the day is not complete without a hearty rendition of Sandra Boynton's Pajama Time! Often Piper will giggle excitedly in anticipation of her favorite line, "It's Pajama Time!" (She's especially thrilled when my husband delivers the line overdramatically in an Adam Sandler-esque voice.)

Christine Lunday of Ashby, Massachusetts, mother to 12-year-old Justine and 3-year-old Jacqueline, agrees. "One of our favorite stories was Madeline. No matter how many times we read it, we never got tired of reciting the line, 'To the tiger in the zoo, Madeline just said, Pooh-Pooh.'" Funny, repetitive sounds (like pooh-pooh) and animal and vehicle noises are big hits now.

Why aren't kids bored to tears after hearing the same book hundreds of times? As babies get older, their world expands at an alarming rate, which is why toddlers are drawn to stories that they have become accustomed to. The familiarity of a child's favorite book -- stories with common household objects or themes like bedtime -- can instill her with the comfort and reliability she desperately craves. That's also why kids get so upset when you try to skip some words or vary a beloved story.

But while toddlers thrive on repetition and familiarity, this is also the time when they start spending more time outside of the home. Let children know that words and reading are part of the larger world around them. Take them to your local library and bookstores. Read cereal boxes and labels when you go to the supermarket. Take books along for car trips. Buy soft, vinyl books to be enjoyed during bath time. Let them know that books can go anywhere!

What to Read: 12 to 18 Months

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • Fuzzy Fuzzy Fuzzy! by Sandra Boynton
  • Time for Bed by Mem Fox
  • Where Is Baby's Belly Button? by Karen Katz
  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss

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