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Why It's Important to Read to Toddlers


Books for children are our first introduction to the art of storytelling. Reading to children helps develop imagination, listening skills, and a lifelong love of books. Just as important, kids love being read to. When you read to kids, you are spending quality time just for the two of you.

a dad reading a book with his two toddlers

Did you know that over 50% of children between the ages of 3 and 8 say that their favorite thing to do with their parents is read? Not sitting in front of the TV or playing endless video games.* Still not sure you want to read to them? Too busy for a trip to the library for books to read to kids? Read on to learn more about why reading to children has numerous benefits for the whole family.

Why Reading to Children Matters -- Even at a Young Age

One of the most important benefits of reading to kids is that it plays a large role in language and literacy development. Storytelling also offers children the opportunity to learn about feelings as they sympathize with the characters in a book. Children who are read to not only improve their literacy skills, their language skills improve, too. Some studies have even shown that children who are regularly read to perform better at school and exhibit less troubled behavior.

Tips to Help You Read to Kids

  1. If your child isn't used to being read to, be positive as you share the news you're going to be reading together. Tell your child that this is special time for the both of you, and how much fun it will be.

  2. Make reading your quiet time together. Ensure you aren't competing with the TV, music, or any other distracting noise.

  3. You may not realize how interested your child might be in books for children. Give them time to look at their books from home or the library, and limit their choice to one or two each night. Bedtime is a perfect time to sit quietly and read to your baby, toddler, or school-aged child.

  4. Most kids love hearing you use different voices for the characters in the book, and this will help them follow the story.

  5. Make reading a daily habit. Read at the same time every day and your child will soon make sure you don't forget it's time for a book!

  6. Encourage your child to ask questions and be a part of the reading experience. Puppets are a fun way to act out the story after you've read it.

  7. Invite friends and family to read with your children when they visit.

  8. If your children are very young, it's better to spend a shorter time reading one book than forcing it when they're distracted or tired.  

How to Read Aloud to Your Children

For some parents, the idea of reading a book makes them feel a bit self-conscious. No matter what, your children will love to hear you read to them -- and if your children love to hear you read, what else matters? If you still feel uncomfortable with reading aloud, try following these tips:

  • Your child will love you for reading to them -- they'll never judge your performance!

  • Don't think about it, and don't listen to yourself read. Just start, and practice, and soon it will feel comfortable.

  • Books to read for kids are often humorous and entertaining. Take a look at a few when your child isn't around. You may find you even enjoy and look forward to reading them when it's book time.

Books for Children Who Don't Like Being Read To

Sitting still and listening to someone read is a skill and can take more time for some kids than others. The more time you spend reading, the better your little one will enjoy the activity. To make it more fun, give your child lots of choices. Find age-appropriate books with familiar characters, or on favorite topics (e.g. puppies, tractors, dinosaurs) that will maintain interest. Let your child tell the story to you, and remember to ask engaging questions as you read.

* this statistic comes from research completed by Disney/Pixar Cars

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