If you have a toddler, books are probably a big part of your life.
There are lots of books for toddlers in libraries and book shops but some of them are, to be honest, not that great.
My son James with his Oma
So how do you choose the best books for toddlers?
Choosing great books for 1 - 3 year olds gets easier when you start to think about the things they're interested in and the things they love to do.
The lovely thing about children at this age is that they're absolutely in love with life!
If you have a 1-year-old or a 2-year-old in your life, you'll know that these kiddoes:
- can walk and talk and are curious about everything.
- love to use their new and rapidly-developing skills to explore the world around them.
- want to press all the buttons, open all the doors, climb all the stairs and jump in all the puddles!
- want to know how things work and their favourite question is why?
Children learn about their world through personal experience so it's really important that toddlers have lots of different experiences.
They need the adults in their lives to continue to talk to them and to listen to their responses because this is how they acquire the language skills they'll need to learn to talk and later to read.
Reading Aloud To Toddlers
Personal experience is important but learning to make sense of the world requires understanding that goes beyond our own experiences.
This is where stories and toddler books can help because reading is a great way of building background knowledge.
Luckily children at this age just love being read to. They love nursery rhymes and stories of all kinds because:
- stories and books help satisfy their strong need to explore their world
- they have longer attention spans than they did as babies and so are capable of paying attention to a story for more than a couple of minutes
- their cognitive skills are more highly developed so they're able to understand a story with a plot and are usually very interested in what happens next
All of this means that a whole new world of wonderful stories has opened up for you and your child!
What Should I Read?
There's a list of truly excellent books for 1-3 year olds here.
At this age:
- introduce new books but don't throw out the old favourites. Your child will continue to love them and ask for them so keep reading them;
- toddlers love repetition and familiarity and will ask you to read the same books over and over again. It's important to do this, although you can, of course, introduce new books too.
My son, Oliver, with his Aunty Tina
- Try reading three books at bed-time: one old favourite, one new one and one that's familiar but not too-well known;
- even if your child is super-active and you think he's unlikely to sit still long enough to listen to a story, give it a try.You may be surprised at how quickly listening to you read can actually calm a very active child down;
- if your two-year-old has been read to regularly, he will usually understand how to take care of a book and will be familiar with the routine of cuddling up for storytime;
- if you haven't already started reading bed-time stories, now is a great time to start. Stories about going to bed are fun and can help your child settle down to sleep more easily, always a bonus!
- share some of the classic picture books with your child. Not only are they fun to read, you'll also be introducing your child to stories which are part of our shared culture;
HOT TIP: nursery rhymes are a big deal at this age. Toddlers love them and they help build phonological awareness which is an important pre-reading skill. Check out my favourite books of nursery rhymes here.
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