wee books : 6 tips for reading with your toddler

posted on: Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Do you love a good book too? Today I'm very excited to introduce wee books, our new series all about fabulous reads and handy hints for making the most of story time.

We're kicking off the series with six tips for reading with toddlers from the fantastic Erin of The Kids' Bookshop.

Erin said, "Reading to your child is one of the most special experiences you can share. It is a well-known fact that regular story times help to improve children’s vocabulary, future reading ability and of course, fosters a love of books and reading. But if you are new to the experience, you may feel a little overwhelmed or silly. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of story time with your toddler.

1. Let the child play. People often comment to me that they find it frustrating when their child won’t sit still or wants to constantly turn the pages. Don’t worry about it. Let them explore. Learning which way to hold a book and how to turn the pages are all integral to learning how to read so let them play. Board books are fantastic to start with as the pages won’t be ripped by overenthusiastic page turning.

2. Take your cues from the language and punctuation. I’ll always remember hearing Mem Fox say that she thinks about the punctuation almost as much as the words. The rhythm of the text is very important so make sure you pause for the full stops and commas, raise your voice for the capitalisations, etc. For example: from Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy by Lynley Dodd:

'They sniffed at the smells and they snooped at each door, when suddenly, out of the shadows they saw…(pause) SCARFACE CLAW the toughest Tom in town.'

Bring out the drama, little kids love to be surprised.

3. Leave your pride at the door and don’t be afraid to do the actions, sounds and make funny voices. Actions are fabulous and it won’t be long before you find your child acting them out themselves. For example: one of the favourites in our house is I’m a Dirty Dinosaur by Janeen Brian.

'I'm a dirty dinosaur with a dirty face. I never have a wash, I just shake about the place. Shake, shake, shake, shake, shake about the place.'

My little one loves to do the dinosaur actions and I often find him 'reading' this to himself and tapping his tum like a drum.

4. Don’t choose a book that is too long. One of my favourite books is Olivia by Ian Falconer. This story about a precocious little pig is very funny, with the perfect combination of text and illustrations. However, it is far too long for my one-year-old so I have reluctantly put it away until he is older. Choose something short and to the point, you will know that your toddler’s attention span is not very long.

5. Give your child the gift of your time. Sometimes, at the end of a long day, it is tempting to rush through story time so the little one can go to bed and you can have some time to yourself. However, try not to make them feel as though you can’t be bothered. There is only a short amount of time during which they will want to snuggle up on your knee and listen to their favourite story so cherish it, you won’t regret it.

6. Have fun! Your toddler may want to hear the same book over and over again, but think back to the books you loved as a child and the ones you can still recite probably bring warm memories. Be silly, make them laugh – you don’t have to be a trained actor, just let the story guide you."

Thank you so much for your tips Erin! Next week Erin will be sharing her top six picks for one-year-olds.

Do you have any tips or questions about reading with wee ones? What do you love or dislike the most about story time with toddlers? I'd love to hear!

{images of the lady perusing her books back when she was about 10 months.}


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