Raising a Bookworm

18-24 Months

Toddlers, experiencing a surge of independence, will now begin carrying their books around the house and start "reading" aloud to themselves and their toys.

Amy Ruocco of Hudson, New Hampshire, often finds her 21-month-old daughter, Claire, reading to herself in the nursery rocking chair. "Sometimes, I'll catch her pointing to the animals and making their sounds -- something that we've always done together. She'll get a proud little smile on her face when I peek in on her."

The 18- to 24-month-old child's capabilities add a new dimension to storytime. Your child now becomes a more active participant in the process by choosing books and talking about the action. You can pick books with more words per page and more of a storyline. "Resist just reading to your toddler," says Hilary Stecklein, MD, a pediatrician and founder of Reading Rx, a Minnesota-based nonprofit. "Read with your toddler, making it a give-and-take experience." Ask for his input. Nod your head in agreement. Ask questions and be enthusiastic as he becomes involved with the story.

Toddlerhood is also when a multitude of distractions and your child's newfound ability to run around may mean it's harder to get him to sit down with a book. If your toddler refuses to settle down for story time, Dr. Klass recommends choosing books with short, quick sentences and reading one or two pages, then letting the child take a lap around the room before picking up where you left off. You can also see if reading to siblings or with extra enthusiasm will entice your little one to come over to see what all the fuss is about. And set a good example by letting your kids see you enjoying your own books.

"Read aloud every day because you love being with your child, not just because it's the right thing to do," says Mem Fox. "And, basically, everyone lives happily ever after."

What to Read: 18 to 24 Months

  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault
  • Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle
  • The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown
  • Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

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