Reading with Your older baby & toddler Work / Play / Leisure Suitable for stages: 6 - 12 Months, 12 - 18 Months, 18 - 24 Months
From 12 months onwards, your baby-turning-toddler will be busy exploring their world and moving their bodies. Book time can be a great way to slow things down, engaging them in a focussed activity and encouraging speech & language development.
If you have read to them from a young age, they will be able to turn pages, be gentle with the book, connect the pictures to what is going on in the story, find it fun to join in with making the sounds and silly noises, imitate words and point to the different parts of the book.
Reading for fun means that there are no rules! You don’t have to read out every word. You can talk about the pictures, ask questions and see how they respond and be as silly as you want with noises, tone and acting out the story. If your toddler points and says a word, you can repeat the word back to them and add to it to help expand their vocabulary. For example, if they point and say “sun” you add an adjective or verb, some examples might be:
“Yes, a yellow sun. The sun is the colour yellow”
“A round sun (then finger trace around the sun in a circle). Its shape is a round circle”
“Yes, a hot sun (then touch the sun and pull away) “Ouch! the sun is hot”
You can ask “Where is the sun?” (pointing outside) and see if they point and try to say “sky” or “outside”.
There are so many creative ways that books can be used as a tool to help with language, comprehension, understanding of the world, and encouraging speech. It is also a creative and fun activity for you to enjoy together. When you are both relaxed, your baby is in the best state to learn and will absorb information like a sponge and attach happy feelings to the experience. This all combines in a powerful way to reinforce your child’s love of learning and books.
By 18 months, they will have their favourite books which, after you read them they will ask “again?” repeatedly or negotiating for “just one more” (a lot more than once).
Hearing the words and following the story repeatedly can be repetitive for you, but it is great for their comprehension and learning of new words and concepts. For your own sanity, experiment with your tone and challenge yourself to improve your reading aloud skills. Watching Play School presenters read or watching YouTube videos of people reading books aloud will help you appreciate that there is an art to reading to children.
Watching a read-aloud video can be a good way to check out the book to help you you decide to buy or borrow the book from your local library. Joining your local library has many benefits and many have online borrowing systems. Your child will feel very special having their own library card, choosing books out, and returning time and time again. Borrowing books can be a good way to introduce a variety of books (without the price tag) and find books that your child connects to and wants to read again and again (and you are happy reading again and again). These are the ones well worth buying as they will be much loved. In saying that, you can never have enough books lying around ready for your child to pick up and learn from. You'll appreciate having a variety of books to choose from too. Books are also great to give as presents and don't take up much space.
Watching videos of the book being read aloud or reading the ebook is a fun thing to do, but it doesn't match the magic of reading the physical book to your child at your own pace, and physically interacting with the book including turning the pages. It's old school, but there is something special about reading a book despite the technology available to us.
Some of the most loved children’s books use simple storylines, rhyming words, rhythm and repetition.
Dr. Seuss books are famous for their tongue-twisting rhyming words and quirky characters. They are challenging for parents to read and spark imagination in children of any age. You can buy the whole collection of Dr. Seuss books or start by collecting a few favourites including Green Eggs and Ham, Dr Seuss’s ABC, Oh, The Places You’ll Go! & Marvin K Mooney.
Another much-loved author who uses rhyme, rhythm and repetition is Julia Donaldson. She has a huge range of successful children’s books, many of which have been turned into animated films and Broadway productions including The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child and Room on the Broom. ABC iView has had a number of the animations available to view for a limited time.
Lynley Dodd is another well-known author of the Hairy Maclary series of books which celebrate rhythm and rhyme to tell their story. You can watch her Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy book on YouTube to see if you like it.
There are many other children’s book authors who successfully use the rhyme, rhythm and repetition formula along with great illustrations, including the following examples:
- Each Peach Pear Plum by Allan Ahlberg (YouTube)
- I Went Walking by Sue Williams (YouTube)
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? by Bill Martin Jr (YouTube)
- Who Sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen (YouTube)
- Hand Hand Fingers Thumb by Al Perkins (YouTube)
- Yellow is My Colour Star by Judy Horacek (YouTube)
- Time for Bed by Mem Fox (YouTube)
- Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox (YouTube)
Other Popular Picture books
There are so many awesome picture books loved by children worldwide, it would be impossible to mention them all. Here is a starting list of notable books to check out - you may even be familiar with them from your childhood.
- Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman (YouTube)
- Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (YouTube)
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (YouTube)
- Owl Babies by Martin Waddell (YouTube)
- Monkey And Me by Emily Gravett (YouTube)
- Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans (YouTube)
- Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins (YouTube)
- Whoever You Are by Mem Fox (YouTube)
Have fun starting your child in their lifelong love of reading, it's a special time you can have together that you will never regret.
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