10 Tips for Reading with Toddlers


Edie loves books. She whacks us on the head with them to read to her in the morning and takes several of them with her to bed at night. I love that she has such an intense love of books, as many young children do, but with such a short attention span it can be challenging to sit down and read with her.


In partnership with Houghton Mifflin and the very sweet  book, The Full Moon at the Napping House by Audrey Wood, illustrated by Don Wood. I thought I’d share a few tips with you for reading with toddlers so story time with your young child can be more enjoyable.


The Full Moon at the Napping House is a companion to the classic board book, The Napping House which came out more than 30 years ago. It’s a sweet bedtime story with a lot of repetition, animals, and beautiful illustrations in a funny kind of chain reaction story that happens at night. Edie regularly requests this book now anytime of day.



A few years ago I read a book called The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. He talks about the importance of reading out loud for all ages of children, especially young children. He says, “children hearing the most language will have the best chance of having the best language skills.” He also provides a comprehensive list of his favorite books in the back. But what I’ve found most useful recently are his tips for reading out loud with toddlers and I thought I’d share some tips from the book with you today:

1. Begin reading with your child as early as possible, the younger you start the easier it it.

2. Let the child pick the book.

3. Choose books for infants and toddlers that include rhymes, songs, and repetition to stimulate language and listening.


4. Slow down enough for the children to see the pictures without feeling hurried. Most people read aloud way too quickly.

5. Vary your voice and use interactive dialogue with simple questions for maximum engagement.


6. Read the same book multiple times. Repetition helps children learn language and comprehension.

7. Don’t worry about toddlers getting up and moving away. Continue to read to them. Jim Trelease says, “attention spans are not built overnight – they are built minute by minute, page by page, day by day.”



8. Read as often as you and child have time for.

9. For older toddlers, give them a paper and crayons if they start to get fidgety.

10. Don’t read a book you don’t like yourself. And since the child is picking the book, make sure all the pictures books in your home are ones you love! Your dislike will affect how you read the book.


Any tips for reading with toddlers? I’d love to hear your ideas!

This post is sponsored Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers and the great new picture book The Full Moon at the Napping House by Audrey Wood, illustrated by Don Wood.


Reading to them while they’re in the bathtub. It was helpful during the squirmy stage

The Napping House was one of my favorite books growing up! It’s funny, because I can’t really recall anything about the book aside from visualizing one or two pictures, but I can remember the way my mom would say “where EVERYONE was sleeping..” in her dramatic reading-to-a-three-year-old voice that commanded my attention!

I love reading with my little ones before bed each night, and when we can during the day, but I love that we’ve built up to a solid 30 minutes of reading (at least) per day! I can see such a difference in how much more my kids learn when we get our reading in each day!


These photos of you two are adorable! I find it helpful to build interactive story kits for our three year old. Whether it’s make from wood, fabric, or even paper, my daughter likes acting out scenes from books with little characters. I also find she remembers details from the story better that way.

Oh I love this! To expand on #5, asking toddlers if they can pick out specific things in the illustrations can be another way to keep their interest. “Can you see the…” dog, cat, lamp, chair, truck, whatever they’re into. Also in lots of books there are visuals that repeat from page to page, though might not be mentioned in the text. Perhaps a teddy bear, or a pet, the moon etc. –Like a toddler version of Where’s Waldo:) Our 21 month old loves pointing those out and now does so without prompting.
I’m in the middle of finishing my first picture book, and I can’t wait to be able to read it to my kiddo!!

Great advice! Esp. number 7! My 4 year old will listen most of the time, and it is my hope that I can read to her chapter books out loud, while she is doing things like arts and crafts. That’s the dream! My 1 year old still just likes to eat his books. 🙂 But it’s so cute when I can read to them together. I also keep children’s books all over the house, so there are books in every room. I try not to limit them to one single bookcase, and mix the books up, so that we are exploring new ones every few months of so.

Analog House

I love the idea of books all of the house. Our books are too, but not intentionally- they just get carried everywhere Edie goes!

Have you heard of Mem Fox? She is a fantastic Australian children’s book author who has written so many classics – a powerhouse! My daughter’s first book was “Ten Little Fingers, Ten Little Toes,” and “Where is the Green Sheep?” is a perennial favourite. At the moment she is loving “Possum Magic” — so Aussie! Anyway, I happened to read a book Mem wrote called “Reading Magic” at an airbnb we stayed in when my daughter was tiny (she’s 2.5 now). I still think of it a lot; it’s the reason we read three books at bedtime! Some tips here http://memfox.com/for-parents/for-parents-ten-read-aloud-commandments/ but I recommend the full book if you can find it!

I’ll add my three cheers for Mem Fox. Where is the green sheep is an excellent book for toddler reading and it’s written so intentionally. Only 2 words have more than one syllable and she spent about 12 months on the few hundred words refining word choice. We have so many of her books!

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