There is no greater gift that a parent can give a child. Greater than jewels and gold, a mother who reads to me. In our busy digital world of flipping back and forwards screens on Iphones, the book for a toddler is an experience of worth and great value.
I love the way toddlers around one year to two years babble, make sounds, giggle and stare as the pages of a book unfold. A story brings language, a rhyme, patterns and beauty. And so I am fortunate to have three grand children at the moment between these ages to share stories with.
Some pointers for the parents/ care givers. Don’t rush, even when they insist on pushing and pulling the pages. Read with excitement and energy to make them engaged. Choose a wide range of reading – hard books, flip books, peek a boo, counting, ABS etc. Get comfortable with your child and books. Tucked up in bed or sitting on a sofa or bean bag.
At 18 months twins Annie and James choose their favourite books.
Toddlers like repetition. They also like the book to be read several times. This bond is fantastic. Point to pictures, ask simple questions, look for hidden clues, let them lift the flaps. Reading poetry is fun. Memorisation is good. Any time is a story time. before breakfast, before nap time, after dinner. The Walker Book of Poetry is a great collection.
I enjoy setting time aside with my grand children to read books. Each of them have different tastes. Simple stories like The Three Bears is easy for the telling. Explore the latest books and re-read old favourites. Toddlers can visit libraries, although their attention span is limited and often they want to play or touch as many books as possible.
Look out for some popular titles.
Nick Bland books are popular; hungry, cranky bears sell well. I think you’ll guess why.
Aaron Blabey books are favourites right up to 3 years. A bit of fun and nonsense.
The Storybox Library is an online database of children’s books read aloud by famous authors, musicians, comedians, sports people and actors, suitable for listening for ages 2+. It has a catchy tune that young children like and the stories are well chosen.
Noisy books that make sounds are terrific too. Press a button, listen to the cow moo!!
Always carry a book on holidays, in the car, on a picnic, to grandma’s house, to church, or pile them up near their bed. When toddlers see that their parents love and value reading, then they will pick up these good habits/ Persistence is everything.
Wordless picture books such as Jan Ormerod’s Sunshine and Moonlight are a treat.
Check out Emma Quay’s marvellous picture books, Daddy’s Cheeky Monkeys and Bear and Chook. NZ writer, illustrator, Pamela Allen is a winner too.
Mem Fox and Alison Lester both have a glorious collection of board books for the small children.
Lastly, don’t agonise over toys and what to give as a gift for a birthday. Buy a book that brings a forever beauty to a child’s day.