There are many things we need to do to give our children the skills they need to survive as adults. Hopefully more than survive – flourish. One of the most important skills we need to teach our children is how to read.
Isn’t that what teachers do?
Yes and as our children’s first teacher, it’s down to us!
Personally, I don’t think you can start too early. With cloth books, pram books, even books for babies to teeth on, there is no excuse for not having books around. By just having books around will naturally kindle a curiosity in them.
Babies are first interested in the things around them and they will automatically want to reach for, explore and play with them. This early interaction with books familiarizes children with the written word and their understanding of it will soon develop.
What Type of Books to Choose?
Obviously everyone’s preference is different but interaction books are always good for toddlers. A toddler’s natural instinct is to play so work with it!
There are millions of books that can be used in play. From musical books to books with puppets there will certainly be something for every active toddler. I have found the library invaluable when it’s come to gauging what my child wants to read.
Ideally I would take her every week, but life gets in the way so we end up going a few times a year. It is enough though that she can have a good look around and find things to read that she is interested in. This at times has surprised me, but it has meant that any books I buy are relevant.
Buying Books Cheaply
Books are expensive, there is no doubt about that. However, there are many places you can go to find cheap books. At the moment my daughter’s favourite book is one we bought for £1 at our local supermarket. It was the best £1 I have spend for a while! The vast majority of our books are all second hand, either from charity shops, fates, or nearly new sales. The first nearly new sale I went to I found 10 books for nothing! The other joy of toddlers is that they read and reread the same book a million times and still want it one more time! Personally, I actively encourage this repetition.
When Should we Read?
Whenever you can is the short answer.
I am a real routine person so we always read before bedtime and then again once in bed. I am aware that not everyone works best with a routine and there are loads of opportunities to read during the day. My daughter is not a morning person, so we quite often read when she gets up as a gentle activity before the madness of the day kicks in.
I try and use books throughout the day as we are playing, eg when playing with her kitchen she has some recipe books that she uses to help her “cook”, or her doctor’s set has a book about the body in so she can diagnose her patients.
I have some more active books or magazines in the car especially if we are going on a long journey. Our favourite time to read is a bedtime story. If we haven’t read anything at any other time in the day I always know she will have her bedtime story.
A love of reading is so important and will massively help when it comes to learning in school. There is no excuse for any child not having access to books as they are available for free! Using a range of different books, at different times will help keep your toddler interested in reading and with a bit of luck they might even grow to love it especially if it is a specially time with them and mummy or daddy.