By Akilah Porter, Cleveland
Hearing & Speech Center
Experts recommend you read to your child as often as you can and that you strive to have at least one scheduled reading time each day. Choosing regular times to read (especially before naps and bedtime) is a way to help your child learn to sit with a book and relax. But you can read anytime your child seems in the mood.
If your toddler will let you, hold him or her in your lap when you read. It’s a great spot for:
- helping your child feel safe, happy and relaxed
- giving undivided attention
- showing new things
- inviting participation
You’ll find that your toddler has a mind of his or her own and wants to be independent and successful. Nurture these instincts by offering three or four books from which to choose, praising your child’s selection, letting your toddler help you turn pages, and asking for help as you find things on a page. Your child will love to finish sentences in books with repetitive phrasing or rhymes.
Here are some additional reading tips:
- Read whatever books your toddler asks for, even if it’s the same book every night for weeks and weeks (and weeks and weeks).
- Read slowly enough for your toddler to understand.
- Read expressively, using different voices for different characters and raising or lowering your voice as appropriate.
- Use puppets, finger plays (like the “Itsy Bitsy Spider”), or props while you read. (For more information, click here.)
- Encourage your toddler to clap or sing when you read rhythmic, sing-song books.
- Talk about the illustrations with your child. Point to items and name them. Then, ask your child to name them with you and offer enthusiastic praise as he or she does so.
- Ask open-ended questions, like, “Why do you think the lion is going into the woods? What do you think will happen next?” This encourages your child to think about the story and to ask questions.
- Substitute your child’s name for the name of a character in the book.
- Have fun! Show your child that reading is enjoyable.