Toddlers often have favorite books. And if we are re-read those favorite books again and again, they begin to remember some of the words. You can use this natural enjoyment to guide your toddler on the road to becoming a reader. Teachers call this stage pre-emergent reading. Children between the ages of one and three are usually not reading, although they can pipe in with a word or tell you what they see on the page. You may find your toddler “reading” the book once they have heard it many times. They may not remember every word, but they are learning how books work; how to hold a book so it is right-side up, how to turn the pages from right to left, understanding that the pictures help tell the story along with the words.
Reading together gives us time to cuddle, talk, laugh, enjoy pictures and spend quality time with our little ones. If we read regularly, children will begin to associate reading with pleasure. And there are a couple of things we can do to support that learning and enjoyment.
Choose books with:
- simple stories and rich vocabularies
- rhythm and rhyme
If your child has a favorite rhyming book (and is familiar with the story) try leaving out the last word in a line: “Silly Sally went to town, walking backwards upside_____ (down.)
My son just turned two and is becoming a dedicated “reader.” Lately he has been enthralled with The Little Red Hen by Byron Barton. After many readings, he began to chime in with “Not I! said the cat, Not I! said the pig, Not I! said the duck.” I helped him by pointing to each animal. He delivered each line with gusto, clearly proud to be “reading” with Mommy. I don’t know who was more proud.
Reading is one of those developmental milestones that is equally thrilling for parent and child, albeit for different reasons. As parents, we know the value and importance of reading both in school and in life. We look forward to seeing our children become readers. Children who have been read to regularly understand the magic of reading and are more enthusiastic and determined to read on their own. Reading is like a magical superpower that brings a level of independence and opens up new worlds.
After his recent success with The Little Red Hen, my son seems to understand that he can “read” the stories he knows by looking at the pictures and using his own words to tell the story. Just last night I found him “reading another favorite; Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaur! by Sandra Boynton to his ladybug doll. He was looking at the pictures and reciting the words from memory. He had enough understanding to get the basic story line right. He had some lines spot on and others were pretty close. He held the book the right way and turned the pages just like Mommy. He looked at the pictures for clues. He may be just two, but he is already on the road to reading.
Check out these great toddler books that have rhythm, rhyme and repeated phrases: