Reading books with your toddler is a great way to promote language development! Not only does story time help kids develop basic language skills and expand their vocabularies, but it is also a great bonding opportunity for you and your child. Try building it into your child’s daily routine (i.e., before bed or after nap) to assure your child gets some story and bonding time in every day. :)
Below are some helpful tips to make reading time both fun and effective!
Have your child pick the book. One of the most important parts about reading is making sure your child is interested and excited about the book. Try giving your child a few choices or have your child pick out a book from his or her collection. Once your child is engaged, he or she will be more receptive to language!
Paraphrase when necessary. Toddlers tend to have shorter attention spans. Especially with books that have long, excessive narratives, try paraphrasing the text to help keep their attention. Based on their language skills, it can also be beneficial to simplify the text to help them better comprehend the story.
Be animated. Use different voices for different characters and use facial expressions based on the characters’ emotions. Be silly and have fun with your child to make reading a positive, enjoyable experience.
Pause and wait. Books with repetitive texts (e.g., Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See?) provide a rhythm to speech, which become easily memorized. Try pausing before saying the final, rhyming word to see if your child will fill in the blank.
Point to the pictures described. Point to and talk about what is being read. Nouns are typically the first to develop, but children need more than just nouns to start combining words together. Try pointing out different types of words while reading: nouns (e.g., dog, ball, etc.), verbs (e.g., stop, push, wash, etc.), adjectives (e.g., small, cold, etc.), and prepositions (e.g., in, on, etc.).
Relate. Talk about events in your child’s life that relate to the story (e.g., “That monkey is brushing his teeth just like you do!”). It is a great comprehension tool and will help them better remember what happened in the story.
Expand. If your child spontaneously points to pictures and comments on them, try adding additional words by putting it in a simple phrase or sentence (i.e., child: “car” parent “A red car!”). Talk about and expand on what your child is interested in.
Model good grammatical speech. Toddlers typically begin using early grammatical markers. Try exaggerating these early grammatical markers while reading (e.g., present progressive -ing, plural -s, possessive -s, early location words “in” and “on”).
Ask questions. Get your child thinking. Stop and take breaks to make predictions (e.g., “What do you think will happen next?!”). If your child is working on answering wh- questions (e.g., who, what, where, when), you may ask some questions throughout the story (e.g., Where are they?! What is she doing?). If they don’t know the answer, go ahead and model the correct answer for them to show them how to correctly answer wh- questions.
Read and repeat. Read the same story again and again. The repetition will help your child learn language. It will also help your child become familiar with the way stories are organized.