Why You Should Read to Your Toddler

While many people differ on when a baby becomes a toddler, the word toddler refers to the time period in which a child begins to “toddle” around, learning how to control not only physical movement, but emotions and speech. Typically, this begins at 12 months and lasts until around 36 months.

Some people see toddlerhood beginning when their toddler starts being difficult. We have heard the phrase “terrible twos” to define this age, but my ultimate favorite term for it, is “Baby Teenager.” Basically, it begins when a child knows what he wants, but can’t communicate it across well. And, then if he doesn’t get it, bam! Tantrums come (hence the reference to the teen years!).

Theo had his “terrible twos” pretty early–it was around his 18 month mark. While those fits continued to occur during his second year, what helped those fits not turn into continual meltdowns/explosions was his ability to communicate. Of course, he couldn’t always communicate what was going on. But, during those times, my husband and I would ask questions and talk about what was going on, hopefully giving him the words to fit the situation so he could use them later instead of having outbursts.

I really have to thank our simple habit of reading and interacting together for making it possible. It was by us repeatedly reading, discussing the stories and pictures, and describing things during our daily life that we got used to talking about things. And, talking about things is big when it comes to helping your child grow a vocabulary.

Here are some of the benefits of reading with your toddler.

Why Should You Read to Your Toddler?

To help your toddler learn more words and identify his feelings. Like I mentioned above, reading will supply your child with vocabulary. With learning the words for certain feelings or things, he will be able to communicate better. Books are the perfect vehicle to help your toddler see others in the same situations he may be going through. It will help you get used to talking about things like emotions and actions and consequences.

To build a bond with your child. Reading, even if it is just looking at the pictures, is spending time together. It is just one of many activities you can do with your toddler to spend some quality time together. You are not only showing her that reading matters, but that your time with her matters.

To help your tot develop a routine of reading. If you’ve begun reading with your baby, continue that ritual now as your little one grows. If you did not start when he or she was a baby, it is really no harm. Just begin. There is never a bad time to start.

When you open a book and plop your toddler in your lap, you are showing her that it is time to now do this activity. Just like with eating, when you put your child in her seat, she knows food will come. Likewise, when you sit in the same chair at certain times of the day, your little one will grow to know that it’s reading time. We did this with a rocking chair in our son’s room.

It may take time for your little one to sit through the reading of a book. Luckily, the best books for toddlers are short. These books have a simple story line, clear pictures, fun rhymes, and real life scenarios. Visit here to learn more about reading with your toddler.

Make sure to always have a fun time reading. If your tot isn’t in the mood to read, especially when you are first starting out, don’t sweat it. Just try later on. Eventually, your child will look forward to and know that at this location and at this time (e.g., after breakfast, before nap, etc.) we read.

To teach your child that there are times to be calm and times to be silly. A child will not just one day magically sit down and be quiet. This is a skill that takes time to learn. So, practice it at home with reading. As you practice the routine of reading, you will notice that when you bring out a book and sit in your special reading area, your little one will know it’s not just time to read, it is also time to settle down and focus.

Of course, she is a toddler and sitting down won’t last for long. Let’s not fool ourselves here. But, based on experience with my own child and with other children, it will happen. Don’t worry about how long the “calmness” lasts, because as toddlers, it probably won’t be too long. Just go with the flow and keep practicing. It will happen one day.

To raise a reader. To raise someone to be or to do something, he has to be immersed in it. A toddler will grow to be interested in books and stories by being read to. Flashcards and worksheets and drills will not make your child into a reader who loves to read. Spending a daily, personal reading time with you will.

As with a baby, there are so many other ways to help raise a reader (and ultimately a clearer communicator whose ability to say what’s wrong or what he wants) than simply reading together. You can help raise a reader by singing, playing, talking, and writing with him.


Why do you read or not read with your toddler? Do you feel like it is important?

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