Friday, April 22, 2016

How to encourage toddlers to enjoy reading

When I was younger I loved reading, so I've always wanted to foster that same love of reading with bub. I started collecting children's books before she was even born, in the hope that she would enjoy reading as much as I did. Thankfully she's already starting to show an early love of reading by regularly selecting books off her shelves and "reading" them by herself. Of course at the moment she only recognises letters and numbers, not words, so she makes up the story based on the pictures.

I've been quite lucky that bub has a natural interest in books and reading, but I'm still not entirely sure how to capitalise on this and help her learn to read for real. So, when I was offered tips from an expert, I jumped at the chance and I thought I'd share them with you guys too. Ryan Spencer, Dymocks Literacy Expert and State Director of the Australian Literacy Educator's Association, has kindly put together a list of ways parents can encourage toddlers to enjoy reading. I was thankful to learn that I'm already naturally doing a few of the things he's recommended, but I also didn't know about some of the others {I definitely would've been a word pointer if I didn't read this list}.



Did you know that as a parent you have the power to boost your child’s learning and set them up for success in life, simply by reading to them every day?

Evidence shows that reading for pleasure from an early age increases brain power, boosts self-esteem and strengthens language and communication skills. So even if your little one is still a toddler, now is a good time to start building their reading habits.

Toddlers are generally in the emergent stage of reading, when they are just gaining an understanding of how a text works. They will display good book handling behaviours, they will know where the book begins and ends and they understand that print and pictures convey a message. In this stage readers can usually recognise a small number of high-frequency words (5-20 words) that occur regularly throughout a text.

When your child is displaying these reading behaviours, you can assist them in their reading development by pointing out environmental print (words on signs, around the home, at the supermarket), talking about the meaning of favourite books at bedtime and making links between these stories and the child’s own experiences.

Here are a few great tips on how to encourage toddlers to enjoy reading

  • Read with Your Child Every Day
Regular reading routines are essential to developing effective reading habits. Set aside a time every day when you and your toddler can read together, and another time when you can share your favourite parts of the book.
  • Let Your Child Choose What They Read 
Book choice is an component of the reading process. As adults, we very rarely read anything that we either don’t love or enjoy. Why then do we insist that children must read cover to cover something that they don’t necessarily enjoy or like? Often these imposed choices on children come from a place of love – we are trying to support the children in accessing a text that is at their reading level. It is often hard to let go and let children choose their own books. This is vital, however, for developing strong, self-sufficient readers.
  • Relax
The simplest way to encourage children to engage in reading is to relax around the process. The physical location can make a real difference to how the reading is perceived and enjoyed. Try lying down on the lounge room floor, Mum and Dad’s bed, or outside under a tree. Make it a time that is quiet, safe and warm.
  • Make Reading Time Fun and Quick
It is easy and necessary to make reading together the most fun time of every day. Read together with funny voices and try humorous books to engage the reluctant readers in your family. You should aim for no more than ten minutes reading together – just enough to encourage the kids to come back tomorrow. Set a timer if you need to, it will encourage them to ask for a minute or two more when reading time comes to an end.
  • Don’t Be a Word Pointer

The core of the reading process is making meaning. When a child changes a word in the text, they are being a resourceful reader. They are working towards making sure that the text that they are reading makes sense for them. Getting stuck on a word in many cases results in pointing at the unknown word and sounding out, or the parent becomes the “instant word factory” and supplies the word to the child. Both of these strategies are unsustainable. When figuring out unknown words, sounding out is the least effective strategy because the clues aren’t in that word – they are in the rest of the sentence or the pictures. Encourage your child to skip the word and read on for more information, use the pictures for a clue, or even leave the word behind and continue reading.
  • Have A ‘Screen Free Night’ Each Week
Make a screen free night part of your family’s regular routine where everyone in the family picks up something to read. Having your children see you read and talk about books adds value to this reading time. Different approaches to the screen free night may be to invest in reading lamps or book lights so that children can read in bed before sleep.
  • Visit The Local Library and Bookstores
Make regular visits to the local public library and bookstores as part of your family’s routine. These trips are simple ways to drive reading passion.
  • Give Books As Gifts
Whether it’s a birthday or Christmas, give books to your kids as gifts. Encourage your child to lend and swap their books with friends once they have read them.

DYMOCKS BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CHILDREN UNDER 5


Spark the imagination of little readers with a range of picture books, perfect for toddlers and pre-schoolers.


I'll have a review of the books mentioned above on the blog soon. In the meantime if you want more book recommendations, check out the great range of children’s books from Dymocks online. We're constantly adding to our book collection and a number of books from the Dymocks range are now on my wish list. At the rate we're collecting books I'm sure we'll be able to open a library by the time she starts school.

Do your kids love reading?

Toni x

Disclosure - This is not a sponsored post, I did not receive compensation of any form, I simply wanted to share these great tips with other mums.

Linking with Grace

18 comments:

  1. My 18 month old adores Hairy Maclary - anything with Scarface Claw is a big favourite. He holds his breath and quivers all over when he knows Scarface is on the next page. As soon as we turn it he lets out the loudest hissing meow you've ever heard!

    Great post. Reading is so important.

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    1. We haven't really gotten into Hairy Maclary yet, having said that though we only just got it and I haven't read it to her yet. I'm sure she'll love it though because she loves all books. How adorable that he does the sounds, its so great when they get so into a book they start acting it out :)

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  2. These are great suggestions! My parents read to me/encouraged me to read as I got older and it is definitely what made me such a book person as an adult.

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    1. I don't remember my mum reading to me much as a child, but I'm assuming she must have as well and that's what made me love books because I remember loving them from a really young age.

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  3. I love giving books as gifts. As an ex-early years teacher, I'm all about reading for meaning and letting children uses cues to be happy and imaginative readers. Hairy McLary is one of my all time faves, as is Avocado Baby! It's so cute!

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    1. I love giving books as gifts too :) I love giving Little Golden Books mainly because they're so classic and remind me of my childhood {hence why we have so many haha}.

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  4. I think my parents read to me every night and I loved reading as a kid. My mother used to regularly buy us Little Golden Books and I still remember trips to the library when I was very young.

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    1. I love the Little Golden Books, they're the first ones I started collecting. I still buy a new one each time we go somewhere that sells them.

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  5. Best thing you can ever do with your child and for your child...after feeding of course...is READING. You are doing it allllllright! Denyse

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  6. I'm lucky that I have three book loving kids. Gilbert has been a fluent reader from a young age and has always enjoyed writing his own stories while the girls have taken a little longer but both love having a book read to them each night. I'm loving watching Delilah learn to read now she is in kindergarten - it's amazing to watch her recognise a letter and have a go at reading the word!

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    1. Bub's started spelling out words all the time now {not just in books, but on packaging and signs randomly as well}. I think next year I'll try and teach her small words and see how she goes. She'll only be 3 in July and I have no idea when kids usually start reading. It already astounds me somewhat that she's spelling words so young {not that she knows what spelling is, she's just reading letters}.

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  7. We love reading in our house! We are in the routine of reading every night. Sleep does not happen until books are read... and that's fine by me.

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    1. We haven't really started proper reading before bed but I want to put it into our routine. We do lots of reading during the day though.

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  8. Hey Toni,

    Can you please suggest some picture books for a 2 year old.

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    1. Hi, we have a lot of the picture board books from the abc shop, her favourite's are the Peppa Pig abc book {its just the alphabet and pictures from Peppa Pig} and the Hungry Caterpillar counting book. Those two are her favourite books because she can recognise the letters and numbers and makes up stories from the pictures. She also loved the wooden farm board book we reviewed here - http://www.findingmyselfyoung.com/2014/08/mummy-must-have-cheeky-junior.html

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  9. My kids started going to the library for rhyme time and we've been to the library just about once a week ever since. It's amazing the leaps and bounds they make when they start learning to read at school. They use the jolly phonic system which is worth looking at for letter recognition and sounds. Izzy is reading to her sister now. I was watching Summer make up her own story tonight. Cute.

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    1. We used to do rhyme time too but then it all fell apart and was just me chasing her up and down the library for half an hour while everyone else looked at me in horror so we gave up. I'll have to look up the jolly phonic system though :)

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