Reading with Toddlers
At this age, kids love simple picture books about a particular topic -- flowers, trucks, whatever. Books with movable parts are also irresistible, since lifting flaps and turning wheels make storytime extra fun.
What They Learn
"At around 18 months, a child will begin to understand that words represent objects -- for example, a cup is something we drink from," says Susan B. Neuman, EdD, coauthor of A Parent's Guide to Reading with Your Young Child. Your toddler is also able to predict things and loves to test this new skill. "Beginning in their second year, kids try to memorize the books -- what happens on the next page, what words are about to come," says Dr. Acredolo. Toddlers go crazy for repetition -- they'll want to hear the same book over and over again, which helps them recognize words. Even if you're tired of the story, don't try skipping parts; your toddler will call you on it. Print familiarity also kicks in at this age: Kids see that the funny marks on the page represent the words Mommy and Daddy say when they read. "When you see toddlers pretend to write by making squiggles, you know that they're getting the idea," says Dr. Acredolo.
Make Reading Fun
- Tune in to your child. A toddler's attention span is short, so limit storytime to 10 minutes. If he's into it and wants to read more, that's fine; but if he seems bored, don't push it.
- Personalize the story. Make your child the star. Or substitute the kids or animals in the illustrations with family or friends' names: "Look, Jordan is driving the truck. Grandma is riding in the caboose."
- Read books throughout the day. Bedtime stories are great, but you should also read before a nap, at snacktime, even when he first wakes up. Leaf through waterproof books in the tub too.
- Make books part of your emergency kit. Carry a few faves in your diaper bag. The next time the waitress takes forever, whip out a book and save the day.