The Importance of Reading to Infants and Toddlers

Literacy begins at birth and encompasses all the experiences children have with conversation, language (verbal and nonverbal), stories, books and print. Promoting early literacy helps build the skills needed for language, reading and writing.

Infants and toddlers build these skills by holding, playing with and turning pages of books and magazines, singing nursery rhymes, being read to, talking about the pictures in books, and listening to and telling stories. Young children learn by fully exploring the materials presented to them. Give infants and toddlers access to lots of books and allow them the opportunity to explore them however they want; even if it means putting the book in their mouth, spreading all the books out on the carpet or asking for the same book to be read over and over.

Routinely reading to children reduces stress, nurtures close relationships and builds a love of books. Read before breakfast, at sleep time or when you get home from work. Books assist with strengthening skills in all areas of development. For example, rhyming books are great for language development and popup books help with fine motor skills.

Look for:

Sturdy board books that infants and toddlers can easily hold and carry Books with photos of children doing familiar things like sleeping, eating and playing Books about saying hello and good-bye Books with only a few words per page Books that tell simple stories Books with simple rhymes that they can memorize and predictable text Books about counting, the alphabet, shapes or sizes, animals, bedtime, playtime, vehicles or favorite characters

Some great choices for infants and toddlers include:

Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle We’re Going on a Bear Hunt By Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? By Dr. Seuss

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