It is never too early to begin reading with your children. From the very beginning of life, children love to hear the melody of their parent's voices. As your child continues to grow, reading should be a part of his or her everyday experiences.
Here are some helpful tips for reading with your toddler:
You don't have to use a book to be reading. With your toddler on your lap, flip through the mail, ads, the newspaper and magazines. Point to what is interesting and let your toddler point at the pictures as well.
Choose baby books with simple, familiar images. For little ones, use books made of cloth or cardboard with big, simple pictures. Babies like to look at toys, faces, animals and other babies.
Make the pictures come to life. Create different voices for characters. Make noises for the animals, squeals for babies, gestures for brushing teeth. Encourage your child to copy your actions.
Keep books where children can get them easily. Keep durable books in the toy bin or put them on a low shelf. Keep books in your car or a traveling bag.
Wait for your child to read with you. While looking at a page, pause and let your child have time to respond. Watch their expression to see which pictures they like best. They may touch or label the picture. Be flexible and let them help.
Skipping pages is not a big deal. Let them look ahead and come back later if they want to. Remember, a child's attention span is short at this age, and it is often the pictures, not the story, that the child is interested in.
Read the same books over. Repetition is comforting for toddlers. They may always want to hear "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" at snack time or "Goodnight Moon" at bedtime and that's OK.
Most importantly, be a good role model for your children. Let them see you enjoy books. Studies show that children who have reading experiences at home are more likely to enjoy reading at school. You don't need to be a teacher or have brand new books. You just need some books, your child and you.
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Sources: Partners In Parenting Education (PIPE), Hawaii Early Learning Profile Curriculum (HELP),www.Kidshealth.org (Toddler Reading Time).
Laura Pittenger is service coordinator for the Help Me Grow program in Huron County. MAKING A BOOK
Choose a topic: Pick a theme that the child will enjoy (colors, shapes, animals)
Personalize the story: Use the child's name or picture. Use pictures from a family vacation.
Write the story: Use short sentences or just a few words depending on the child's age.
Laminate the book: This will protect the book from tearing easily and then the child can enjoy it for years to come.