Books are a wonderful tool for youngsters. They help to expose children to various concepts and ideas, expand their vocabulary, promote their interest and creativity, and foster their academic and language development. Aside from this, books are often a medium for unique and fun interactions between adults and children.

How do we decide which books to read aloud to or kids? There are some important aspects to consider such as an enticing background and vivid pictures.  Also, you should consider simple words and text, interesting themes and characters, and  how entertaining the images are.

We know that toddlers are highly visual learners at this very crucial stage in their lives. While their eyes begin to adapt and understand the world around them as they grow, they require physical and visual stimulation to help increase their language skills during this developmental stage.

Toddlers can enjoy picture books about objects in their world including people, clothing, shapes and colors, common household objects, or animals. Books with illustrations that are bold and simple appeal to young children. Cloth books and books made of heavy cardboard are durable, easy to clean, and easy for babies and toddlers to manipulate without damaging the book. At this age, they like learning to turn the pages and listening to you talk about the pictures too.

Visual and auditory stimulation are crucial for the development of young minds.  When choosing a read-aloud book for your infant and toddler, go for books with bright and vibrant colors, recognizable figures, familiar people and surroundings, and durable cloth-covered finishes to allow for easy manipulation by a child without having to worry about damaging the book.

Children make huge strides in language development during the toddler stage when they are exposed to symbols, forms, colors, nature, wildlife, and seasons.  Make sure to select books with a number of images that your child can point to and identify.  Reading with your toddler on a daily basis will provide you and your child with special bonding moments that will make your child feel calm, loved, and content.   

Let your toddler sit close to you or sit on your lap while you are reading a story book together. You can help your little one point to pictures and turn the pages.  You can help your toddler participate in the story by producing words, phrases and simple sentences, asking questions, and acting out the motions of the objects or characters in the story.   This not only keeps your child engaged, but makes your child feel healthy, secure, and comfortable.  It also allows you to give your full attention to your toddler when you interact together during the reading activity.

Toddlers want to explore their world independently. Encourage this by setting out three or four of your child’s favorite books and telling him or her to choose a book.  Praise your child.  Let your child help you turn pages, and ask questions as your read the story together.  Your toddler will love to complete the end of sentences in the book with common or repeated words or rhymes.  For example, “The wheels on the bus go _______ and _______.  The three little kittens lost their ________.”  Your child will not only be listening to you, but also recalling and remembering important details in the story or nursery rhyme.  Have fun while you enjoy reading and listening to story books together.

Image by 2081671 from Pixabay

Jo Ann Gramlich is an award-winning author and speech-language pathologist specializing in helping children with communication disorders in Buffalo, New York. She holds a Master of Science degree in Speech-Language Pathology from SUNY Buffalo and has extensive experience in early intervention, preschool, and school settings. Visit her on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.

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