Parents often ask which books to purchase for their toddler. We want kids to be engaged, we want them to enjoy books, and we want to develop their literacy skills. So which books work best when reading to toddlers? In Part 1 of this blog, we discussed 10 ways to encourage language development while reading to your toddler. In part 2, we’ll review 9 principles to consider when choosing books for your child.
Principles to consider when choosing books for your toddler:
1. Consider the illustrations. For young children, pictures play a huge part in their literacy experience. Choose books with exciting pictures that are not too visually overwhelming.
2. Consider your child’s vocabulary level. Don’t be afraid to try books with unfamiliar words; this is an excellent way to introduce new vocabulary. However, try to avoid books that contain high volumes of unfamiliar words, which may lose your child’s interest.
3. Incorporate rhyming and repetition. Young children often love books with repetitive patterns or rhyming (e.g. Brown Bear Brown Bear, 5 Little Monkeys, Llama Mama, etc). These books provide excellent opportunities to enhance phonological awareness and learn language structures.
4. Consider the length. Young children may have difficulty attending to books for long periods of time. Avoid books that are extremely lengthy in pages or text. While reading, follow your child’s lead and look for signs that they might be losing interest. It’s okay to not finish a book. Instead, try to create a positive experience and avoid forcing your child to attend to books beyond their threshold.
5. Incorporate your child’s interests. Introduce books that incorporate your child’s interests. It might be about a favorite animal, a sport your child likes, or a place your child loves to visit.
6. Incorporate upcoming events. In addition to your child’s interests, also look for books about events or experiences in your child’s life. For example, you might choose a book about the first day of school, moving to a new house, or an upcoming holiday.
7. Involve your child in choosing. Give your child a say-so in choosing books they’d like to read. You might provide a few age-appropriate choices, and let them pick one.
8. Utilize your resources. Libraries and bookstores often categorize their books by age-level. For example, the Chicago Public Library website link includes a “For Kids” section with helpful information about developmental milestones and recommended books for various ages.
9. Try new things! When it comes to choosing books, there’s no right or wrong answer. Instead, use these principles to guide your decision making. Try new books as often as possible, and learn about your child’s likes and dislikes. Enjoy spending time reading to your child!
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