Reading With Your Toddler

Reading With Your Toddler

Sitting down with my darling Sophie before her nap, and reading her a book is one of my favorite times of the day. There is something so rewarding about watching her learn to identify new pictures or say new words. Reading books with toddlers is a great way to help expand their vocabulary, especially if you follow a few simple guidelines. In the video below we are reading “Polar Bear, Polar Bear” by Bill Martin Jr. & Eric Carle. I love this book because it is so repetitive. Sophie is able to anticipate what happens next which allows her to participate in the story telling.

When reading with your toddler:

  • Follow your child’s lead. Allow them to pick the book. Then remember you don’t have to read every page in the book or every word on the page. The important thing is to focus on what is interesting to your toddler while reading.
  • Label the pictures.
  • Ask questions like, “Where is the hippo?” Or for older children ask more open ended questions like, “What do you think will happen next?”
  • Read slowly and pause frequently to see if your child can finish the sentence you are reading.
  • When your child labels a picture incorrectly, for example she says pig for dog, simply say dog and point to the picture again rather than saying, “No, that’s not a pig.” This allows them to learn the correct name for the word with out feeling bad about their language attempt.
  • Read a variety of books! Repetitive books, books about colors, numbers, letters, books about everyday objects, animals, food… whatever you and your child love!
  • Read regularly! Reading regularly gives you an opportunity to focus on new vocabulary, check for comprehension, teach new concepts and most of all bond with your little ones!
  • Make it fun!
  • There is no question that reading with your kids frequently definitely has a positive impact on their language development!

Some of my favorite books include:

Reading with your Toddler - Mommy Speech Therapy
Reading with your Toddler - Mommy Speech Therapy
“Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” by Bill Martin, Eric Carle
“Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do you Hear” by Bill Martin, Eric Carle
“Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?” by Dr. Seuss
“My First Word Board Book,” by DK Publishing
“The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” by Eric Carle
“Goodnight Blue,” by Angela C. Santomero
“Goodnight Moon,” by Margaret Wise Brown
“Guess How Much I Love You,” by Sam McBratney
“My First Baby Signs,” by Linda Acredolo, Susan Goodwyn

Here are some other sites that offer suggestions for more great reading:


  1. This is one area where I feel like I’ve done all I can. I’ve been reading to my 4 year-old since she was a newborn, and she knows probably 20 or so of her books by heart, and all of them by sight. She even recites the stories, word for word, during car rides. What I can’t get her to do is converse about them. Her speech “cautions” lie in conversation. She even enunciates very well. She just doesn’t seem to want to speak in unfamiliar exchanges. Is that hereditary? Her father is quite shy, but I was a very verbal and outgoing toddler. She’s getting there, and sometimes she wanders into creative language, but not nearly often enough. One frustration with having a summer baby is that her well-child appointments are when the school district is out of session, so we have to wait until August for “further evaluation.” Yeehaw.

  2. Catherine,

    You should definitely have her evaluated as soon as you are able to. Repeating stories word for word but not being able to talk about them or incorporate them into conversation could be a sign of autism. I hope this is not the case but it is always better to find out for sure.

    If you’d like some information regarding the signs and symptoms of autism this website has some good information:

  3. Yeah, the doctor and I have talked about autism more than once. He doesn’t think she’s severely autistic (she’s very loving and social with people that she knows, it just takes her a while to warm up, and makes decent, though not constant, eye contact). He thinks a spectrum disorder is possible though. If there isn’t a physical/neurological cause though, I think probably the several ear infections she had between ages 1 and 2 (she hit all milestones until 3) and familial factors (her father was deployed for 16 months, during most of her second year) have contributed. She’s now slowed the recitation quite a bit, and is moving, ever so slowly, into creative language. Just about 6 months behind her peers, it looks like to me. But she’s still definitely getting evaluated, because the sooner I can get her into conversational language, the better.

  4. Catherine,

    It sounds like you and your daughter are on the right road. I’ll be anxious to hear how things go.

    Best wishes,

  5. Another great post Heidi.

    I also wanted to know that you have been tagged as a Rockin Girl Blogger, so much you provide to us parents 🙂

  6. Reading to toddlers lays the foundation for their independent reading later on. Their imagination develops, enthusiasm and their ability to create stories on their own too. Mothers should have a time for reading before bedtime. A 15-30 minutes would help them discover the world of being Independence.

  7. Thank you so much for this video. It has given me a wonderful refresher on the joy of reading to our young ones. My youngest is the same age as your daughter in this video. Thank you.