On our last family holiday, I had to move 2 kilos of board books from my suitcase into my carry-on to avoid overweight luggage charges. That’s how much my kids love books. I don’t know if I’m just lucky or if reading to them every day since they were born has had an impact—maybe both. But for some mums, story time can be a struggle. A friend of mine complains that her busy two-year-old son just won’t sit still for a book. I’ll tell you what I told her: sitting still is not required. As delicious as it is to read with a child snuggling on your lap, your kid might prefer to stand up, move around, play with a toy, or even eat in the high chair. My advice is to just keep reading.
Another tip for keeping toddlers engaged is to make reading interactive. While you tell the story, point out what’s happening in the pictures. Ask questions like “Who’s that?” “Can you find the elephant?” “What does the duck say?” and “Does she look happy or sad?” Try books with touchable textures (Pat the Bunny) or lift-the-flaps (Dear Zoo). Let your toddler have a say by choosing favourite books from the shelf and turning the pages.
And with all due respect to the authors, it’s totally okay to change the words. Simplify stories for younger toddlers to suit their limited attention spans. Keep it interesting by adding your own descriptions, such as: “That bird has such beautiful bright red feathers.” Most importantly, if you’re having fun reading, your toddler will be too. I love to create different voices for the characters, use silly accents, or even sing the words. My reading style can resemble an insane cabaret show, especially when I’ve had too much coffee.
Need help building your toddler library? These eleven best books for toddlers are not only highly engaging and fun to read, but they will also help your toddler better understand himself and his world. Check them out in the slideshow.