5 Mar 2014

Reading Aloud to a Toddler

Love of the Written Word

When I was little, my mother used to read aloud to us. It was a daily bedtime routine, and I remember asking for one more story every time. She never refused. She continued to read to us long after we could read for ourselves. It was magical to just lie back, close my eyes and listen to the sound of her voice weave a spell as I drifted off to sleep.


This was my first introduction to the world of books. The next inspiration came from a well-stocked library at our school, where we were actively encouraged to borrow and read books. This early foundation set the tone for all future reading.

Now I am a Mum, and it is my turn to instil a love of the written word in my toddler.


Never Too Soon!
It is never too soon to start reading to your little one. Research has shown that an unborn baby can hear his mother's voice when in her womb. So you can start reading out loud even to your unborn child!

At this stage in the little one's life, it really does not matter what you read. All the baby needs is to hear his mother's voice, gentle, soothing and calming. He will know and recognise the sound of this warm, protective voice once he is born into this world. And he will bond with it, will bond with you, his Mum, the owner of that beautiful voice that has constantly been with him these last few months.

So whatever it is you are reading, newspapers, magazines, books, blogs, just read it out loud so that baby can hear you. Dads might want to give it a go too. Get them to read aloud whatever it is they are reading. So baby will start to recognise Daddy's voice as well.

The only caveat at this stage might be to not read very upsetting material. Any negative change in your emotions is likely to upset baby as well. So stick with cheerful, happy reading. And who knows, baby might just surprise you with a couple of words he picked up here!


Read To Your Little One
We started reading to J when he was just a few weeks old.

Reading at a few months old
Pick up a book with lots of pictures and vivid, vibrant colours. And of course, some words as well! Board book are perhaps the best bet at this stage. They are sturdy and strong, and can withstand a bit of chewing, kicking and rough handling! If you find one that makes a bit of noise, all the better. A few of the touchy, feely, textured ones are quite interesting as well.


Our baby was happy to lie and stare at the pictures when he was read to. Once he started holding his head, he used to sit propped up on my knee and peer at the book as I read to him. He loved thumping on his books, chewing them when I was not looking, and following my finger as I pointed out words and pictures to him.

Now that he is little bit older, he chooses his own reading material. We have moved on from board books, although they do withstand toddler handling much better. We are now picking up paper-backs, getting J used to the idea that he can read big-boy books.



Big-boy Books



The whole read-aloud experience is a lot more interactive now. J picks the book/s that he wants read, and toddles to us, one book at a time. He recognises pictures and words, characters too. He remembers, and can say a few words on some of the pages. More often than not, he tries to repeat everything that is read to him.

We have a rule in our house. Never say 'no' when J asks to read a book. Not till at least three have been read to his satisfaction. I try and go overboard with the dramatics when I am reading to him, M is a lot more sedate. So J gets to hear the same story from two different perspectives, and often chooses to hear both versions of the same book.

Why Read Aloud

I have noticed enormous benefits of reading aloud to my boy. 


It is a brilliant bonding experience; we get to share an adventure together every day. We can be silly over a book, giggle and laugh together, pretend-play with some of the characters.


It might be the same story, but each retelling brings with it a new word that gets committed to memory. Eventually he will know them all and what they all mean.

It is a fabulous excuse to buy a new book. Every birthday, every celebration brings with it at least a couple of books as presents. So much better than the usual array of clothes and toys.

We always have somewhere to go to on a miserable, bleak, rainy day. The local library has a lovely children's section, and we enjoy spending time there surrounded by lots of fascinating books. J even gets to walk through the 'big people' section when I am browsing for my books.

Reading aloud is such a brilliant alternative to watching television. I believe it helps him sit still in one place for a length of time; it helps build his ability to focus and concentrate. Most importantly it is helping his speech and language skills, is helping him build a vocabulary.

I do believe this early initiation into the world of books has laid the foundation that will develop into a profound fondness for the written word as J grows up.




50 comments:

  1. My children REALLY love books and I will continue to encourage them as I think reading books is really important!

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    1. I believe it really is. It helps improve their vocabulary and language skills and focus and concentration.

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  2. Books are so important for children. We have books in every room and I still read aloud to my boys who are 7 and 8

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    1. My Mother used to do that when we were growing up. And I intend to read aloud to J for as long as he will let me.

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  3. I think developing a love for reading is one of the most wonderful gifts you can give to a child. We try to read as much as possible and all of our children love to hear a story. Lovely post!

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    1. Thank you. I believe it is an important skill for life. I hope J continues to enjoy his books even when he is all grown up.

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  4. I always used to read to my two and then when they were old enough, I got them to read back to me as well and we'd take it in turns.

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    1. Oh, I like that idea! Be lovely to sit back and listen to J reading me a story.

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  5. Such a great post and so very true. We started reading to POD early and it really paid off. She's 3 now and absolutely loves books :)

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    1. Thank you Charly. J loves his books too. And when we run out of ideas, we can always pick up a book and snuggle on the sofa :-)

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  6. A lovely post. My brood all love books. I get the older ones to read to me and they really enjoy making up voices and putting in lots of expression. Fran is starting to pick up books and tell me what she thinks the story is about.

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    1. It is lovely to see them getting interested and developing their individuality. Nice when they start choosing their own books.

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  7. Great post, agree totally. Books are the windows to the world and so important xx

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    1. I think so too. And they open a whole new world of ideas and imagination.

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  8. Reading is very important in our house. You can learn so much about, well, everything from reading!

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    1. Absolutely. A great habit to cultivate at a young age. Hopefully one that will continue to grow with them.

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  9. We love reading. I find that when reading aloud we enjoy some quality time together and I enjoy the twins getting involved.

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    1. I find it fun too. Great way to relive some of your favourite childhood book moments.

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  10. I read to my son from a young baby and he's grown up to really love books. It's a great way for them to hear your voice and even learn to pay attention. A really lovely post x

    I recently posted: Things To Do For Free In Essex: Hainault Forest Country Park

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    1. Thanks Michelle. It does seem to help with attention and concentration.

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  11. We love reading in our house. Harrison (2.5!) quite often chooses a book to sit and read to his brother Alex (16m) - they look at it page by page talking about what they can see on each page.

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    1. Awww, that is just so cute :-) Brilliant that they are both enjoying the reading experience so much.

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  12. I love reading to Baby, it is a lovely experience x

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  13. Love to read to my kids at night its so good for them , fab way to learn love your post .x

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    1. Thank you Hannah. I tend not to read at bedtime, as it seems to stimulate rather than soothe! We read through the day instead.

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  14. It is a lovely thing to sit and do together isn't it. Both of mine have loved books from being very small and it is a regular occurrence to find us snuggled on the sofa with a pile of books!

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    1. There is no better way of spending time in my opinion. We love to snuggle up with books too.

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  15. We are huge bookworms in our house and always read F stories, I think I started when he was just three weeks old and would read sherlock holmes aloud as he fed. I hope his love of books continues when he's older. x

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    1. That is excellent! I used to read aloud all sorts before J was born, but have stuck with baby books since. Wonder how he will take to the whole grown-up book experience?

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  16. My son asked to go to the library today for story time and this made me so happy that it was something he wanted to do!

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    1. That is just brilliant. When asked where he wants to go on holiday, J says, "Library!"

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  17. Agree - it's so important to read aloud to little ones and a library trip is always a fun, exciting, FREE, indoor activity - win! ;)

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    1. Absolutely agree. And somewhere to go to on a rainy day.

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  18. I read aloud to my children from a very young age, all of them. But some showed more interest than others from a young age and they have been the words to develop a love of books :)

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    1. I suppose it does boil down to individual preference and choices at the end of the day. I know families where one child loves while the other cannot quite stand books. All we can do as parents is offer equal opportunity to all out children.

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  19. I totally agree the sooner the better. Even tiny babies benefit from having a story shared and read to them.

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  20. Fantastic post! I couldn't agree more when it comes to reading. I feel really sad when fellow mums at baby group say they don't see the point of reading or instead of encouraging their child's interest in a book, shove a toy in their direction instead. We have two tubs in the Mini Grumpy Egyptian's play area - one with toys and sensory bits and the other with board books. She is only ten months old, but already will take a book out (by a book I mean tips them all out everywhere!), open it and start touching the pages. We always have a book at bedtime and seen as I love reading, it makes me so happy to see her getting something out of it too.

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    1. It is a lovely habit to get them into. They do of course, need other sources of stimulation as well. But reading has to be one of them.

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  21. It is fantastic that you read to your child and that you started from the baby stage. It makes me sad when people don't 'get' how important reading to their children is and babies really do get so much from reading together. Bravo to you also for being happy to re-read stories. Many people moan about reading 'that' book again but repetition is absolutely fundamental to children's language development and by reading that book again you are helping to add to their vocabulary as well as doing an activity together that is thoroughly enjoyable. Happy World Book Day x

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    1. I have had people say to me when J was a baby and was being read to, "What does he understand?" I so wanted to reply, "A lot more than perhaps you ever will!" I love re-reading my favourites, so don't mind at all when J asks for his to be read over again.

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  22. No choice but to love books in our house as they are everywhere. My son has always loved them and has a little shelf where he selects his own. He likes pointing and naming what he sees. Sounds like you have a budding little reader.

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    1. I really think I do :-) I hope he continues enjoying them as he is growing up and afterwards too.

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  23. Sebastian loves being read to and I encourage the kids to read to him too (great reading practice for them)

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  24. This is a habit we've gotten out off, I need to remedy this asap.

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  25. Definitely agree with you! Reading aloud to children from a very young age is really important. My latest post is actually about reading to children in a foreign language :) Mel #MBPW

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    1. That is a fabulous idea. Maybe I will try reading to J in our native language and some others too.

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  26. I've read to mine since they were born and we have stories every night before bed. Now the girls can read they like to each read a story out loud before I read another chapter of the book we're in the middle of reading :)

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  27. What a fantastic post - full of useful tips, and your own love of reading really shines through. Thanks for sharing it with us all!

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  28. I think reading to / for kids is very important and I wish more parents do it

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  29. Lots of great tips here. JD loved to be read to pretty much from birth but Miss J has taken a little more persuading. We persisted in offering to read to her, even if it only lasted a few seconds before she lost interest, and now at 2 she loves books and even pretends to read a book every night to her big brother <3

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