The Benefits of Reading to Toddlers
Reading for your child from an early age plays an important role in helping your child develop a foundation in reading and acquiring print awareness. It also helps your toddler gain important knowledge about a wide variety of topics, increasing their world knowledge, builds a large vocabulary, and builds a strong base for enhancing reading comprehension.
Can you really increase a small child's world knowledge by reading children's books to them? After all, aren't children's books short and simple? How would that help increase their world knowledge or increase their awareness of a wide variety of topics? You couldn't be more wrong if that's how you think. Children's storybooks come in all shapes and sizes and contain all types of different stories and plot. So a large part of it depends on the books that you choose! For example, many of our children's favorite books comes from 2 different series of books: 1) Step Into Reading, and 2) I Can Read. Indeed some books are very simple with overly simplistic plot and offer little knowledge to be gained; however, the majority of the books offer fantastic and engaging plots and storylines. Many even help educate your child. Some example books include:
- Whales: The Gentle Giants
- Hungry Plants
- The Trojan Horse: How the Greeks Won the War
- A Dollar for Penny
- The Dragon's Scales
- Mouse Makes Words
The above are just a few of the hundreds of books available from the Step Into Reading books series. With "I Can Read" books, there are also hundreds of different fun to read titles that our kids love to read. These involve action / adventure, and mystery books such as marvel and DC super heroes, transformers, and Scooby-doo Mystery books. Through daily (nightly) reading sessions with your toddler, your child becomes familiar with rich language patterns and the reading process by seeing how you read. Another huge benefit of regular reading is that your child associates reading with fun and entertainment, and not a chore. It encourages them to seek reading opportunities on their own. Children will never get bored of their favorite storybooks, even if they've read it many times before. It is also through the repeated readings where the child gains a more complete understanding of the storyline and plot.
How to Read to Toddlers
As parents, we play the most important role in our children's lives to ensure that they successfully develop their literacy skills, and this is best supported by interactions created by parents reading aloud to the children and then discussing what they've just read. It is extremely important that all parents create a literacy-rich environment to support the growth and development of their children.
And of course, one of the absolute best ways to achieve this, is reading aloud to your kids. "The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children." (Anderson, Hiebert, Scott, and Wilkinson) Reading aloud benefits children by helping them develop their oral language and cognitive skills. It also helps them develop print awareness and phonemic awareness - all of which are critical for literacy development. By reading daily to your baby and toddler, you can help your child develop exceptional print and phonemic awareness at a very early age - before age 2, and reading fluently before 3 years old.
Fun Books for Toddlers to Read
Above, we had mentioned that "Step Into Reading" and "I Can Read" are two of our favorite books series, which comes with hundreds of different books to read to toddlers. We had already listed some books above, and will list a few more here. For Step Into Reading book suggestions, please see here. We have many listed there. We'll list a few of our children's favorite books from "I Can Read" below:
- Batman: Meet the Super Heroes
- Scooby-Doo: Movie Star Mystery
- Scooby-Doo: Secret Santa Mystery
- Superman: Escape From the Phantom Zone
- The Dark Knight: I am Batman
- Scooby-Doo: Thanksgiving Mystery
- Superman: I am Superman
- Transformers: I am Optimus Prime
There are dozens and dozens of these books, and we have most of them, but can't list them all here. Most of the stories have a wonderful plot, and do a fantastic job at keeping the young reader entertained and engaged. Often times, after I finish reading one book, our kids ask the same book to be read again - this time by mommy!
The young child starts with the pictures and illustrations in a book, and strings together a storyline using the pictures; he develops a strong vocabulary base and develops print awareness; he develops some phonemic awareness skills; and eventually the child learns to read conventionally using the text of the story. The first few years of life are the most important and critical for the development of literacy skills, and having a literacy-rich environment at home will ensure your child becomes a successful reader. Aside from reading to your toddler, specific instructions and teaching must be used to teach your child to read.