Reading to children at all stages is important. At this age, toddlers have probably moved on from chewing the book to get enjoyment, can show preferences for favourite books, and enjoy ‘reading’ them over and over again. They’re motivated to do what’s best for their brain through learning and repetition.
Developing a love of learning
If children are engaged and enjoying themselves, they’re learning. When children have positive experiences with books, they’re developing good feelings about reading, and are motivated to continue seeking out books and stories as they grow.
Benefits of reading
- Repetition of the same book and story reinforces familiar words and language patterns.
- Reading a book together gives a wealth of rich experiences — being held, feeling connected, hearing a familiar voice and sharing a story.
- Shared attention, or ‘looking at the same thing together’, is an important activity. It helps the child learn about their world and understand that people have different viewpoints. This is an early stage in the development of empathy.
- The vocabulary in books is usually richer and more varied than normal conversation.
- Choosing te reo Māori pukapuka helps with regular usage of te reo.
- A love of reading is great insurance for the child’s future learning at school, and it gives them access to a wider world that they can enjoy throughout life.
Tips for reading with children
- Read together often — the more that books are part of children’s everyday lives, the more they’ll see reading as a pleasure and a gift.
- Book reading and stories can happen at many times throughout the day — they don’t have to only be part of a bedtime routine.
- Books don’t have to be read word-for-word. Encourage parents to talk about the pages or tell a story to go with the pictures. Even those who have limited literacy skills themselves and may lack confidence in actually reading can still promote a love of books and stories to their children.
The emphasis on reading is not for the child to learn to read now, but to lay the foundations that will strengthen future success in reading. The foundations include:
- a bond with the parents that increases children’s cognitive and social–emotional development
- an enjoyment of language and increased language skills
- a positive attitude towards books.
Some favourite books for toddlers include:
- Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy — Lynley Dodd
- Where’s Spot — Eric Hill
- Any of the many nursery rhyme and fingerplay books