Toddler Reading Time (for Parents) (2023)

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  • What Are the Benefits of Reading to My Toddler?

    Kids who hear a lot of language do better in school. And being read to is one of the best ways to hear language.

    Reading to toddlers sets the foundation for later independent reading. Reading problems can be challenging to fix when discovered in elementary school. But many reading problems can be prevented if reading starts in the toddler and preschool years.

    Before children can read by themselves, they need early literacy skills. These include:

    • having a large vocabulary of words and knowing how to use them
    • understanding that words are made up of smaller sounds (called phonemic awareness)
    • understanding that marks on a page represent letters and words
    • knowing the letters of the alphabet

    You don't need games, flashcards, or special instruction for a toddler to learn these skills. Reading to kids as often as possible is the best way to help them learn to read by themselves.

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    Helping Your Child's Move to Toddlerhood

    Reading aloud is also an important way to help kids move from babyhood to toddlerhood. Between the ages of 1 and 3, toddlers have celebrations and challenges. So it can help for them to hear stories about other kids and how they faced their fears about what's under the bed or learned how to use the potty.

    Kids make big leaps in vocabulary during this time, and learn about letters, shapes, colors, weather, animals, seasons. This can be strengthened through books. Choose books with many pictures your child can point to and name.

    But while excited to learn about the world and experience it, your toddler also needs a strong connection with you. Reading together regularly can strengthen that connection, helping your toddler feel safe and comfortable.

    When and How to Read to Toddlers

    Reading to toddlers often (if possible, at least once a day) is a great goal. Choosing regular times to read (especially before naps and bedtime) helps kids learn to sit with a book and relax. But you can read anytime your child seems in the mood.

    If your toddler will let you, hold him or her in your lap when you read. This helps your toddler feel safe, happy, and relaxed. It also shows you're giving your full attention as you show your child new things, and encourages your child to participate.

    Toddlers like to do things on their own. Encourage this by putting out three or four books and asking your child to pick one. Praise the selection, let your toddler help you turn pages, and ask for help as you find things on a page. Your child will love to finish sentences in books with familiar or repetitive phrasing or rhymes. When you come to a familiar or repetitive phrase or rhyme in a book, pause and let your child finish.

    (Video) Parents Playbook: Top 5 Tips for Reading with Your Toddler

    Here are some other reading tips:

    • Read whatever books your toddler asks for, even if it's the same book every night for weeks and weeks (and weeks and weeks).
    • Read slowly so your toddler can understand the story.
    • Read expressively, using different voices for different characters, and raising or lowering your voice as appropriate.
    • Choose board books or cloth books that are durable. You can let your child use these books without having to worry about pages getting ripped.
    • Use puppets, finger plays (like the "Itsy Bitsy Spider"), or props while you read.
    • Encourage your toddler to clap or sing when you read rhythmic, sing-song books.
    • Talk about the pictures. Point to items and name them. Then ask your child to name them with you and praise your child for their response.
    • Ask open-ended questions: "Why do you think the lion is going into the woods? What do you think will happen next?" This helps your child to think about the story and to ask questions.
    • Use your child's name as the name of a character in the book.
    • Have fun! Show your child that reading is enjoyable.

    Sitting Still Is Not Required

    Trying to read to a toddler who won't sit still can be frustrating. Be patient and keep trying. Find a book or a few pages that are interesting. If that doesn't work, don't force the reading but be sure to try again later. Remember that toddlers love repetition — if your child doesn't seem interested in books, you may need to find a favorite and read it over and over again.

    Some busy toddlers like to stand up while you read to them. Others like to look at a page or two before moving on to something else. Keep the book out — kids might want to return to it later, which you should encourage.

    It's OK if your child can't sit still for an entire book — toddlers' attention spans will get longer soon. You might want to keep reading even if your child moves around. Before bedtime, allow your child to touch and play with favorite toys while you read aloud. The sound of your voice will be a soothing reminder of the bedtime routine and that books are a part of it.

    You may find that your child sits still while coloring or playing with a favorite toy while you read. Some kids might not look at you or the book, but that doesn't mean they're not interested or listening.

    You want your child to have positive associations with reading. If you feel tense or your child resists, consider setting the book aside and returning to it later.

    (Video) Early Reading Tips For Parents

    Reading to your child is only one way to build early literacy skills. You also can:

    • Talk to your child throughout the day.
    • Sing songs together, play rhyming games, and make up your own stories together.
    • Provide paper and crayons so your child can practice writing.

    Also, consider limits on screen time use, whether that's a TV or other electronic devices.

    Choosing Books for Toddlers

    Toddlers want to feel included and capable. So choose books they can follow along with, especially those with familiar or repetitive text so they can fill in words. Keep your toddler's interest by choosing books with small amounts of words on the page and books about topics that you know your child will like.

    For younger toddlers (12–24 months):

    • You'll want sturdy board books with pictures (especially photos) of kids doing the things they do every day. Books about bedtime, baths, or mealtime are all good choices; so are books about saying hello or good-bye. Keep active hands busy with lift-the-flap pages and textures to feel.

    For older toddlers (24–36 months):

    • Kids this age are starting to turn paper pages, so it's a good time to move beyond board books. They're also beginning to understand the mechanics of reading. They like books that are repetitive and easy to memorize so that they can "read" along.

    By now you will start to know what your child likes. Whether it's trains, trucks, or stuffed bears, find books about these things. Kids this age also like books about children, families, and animals.

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    Toddlers love to look at homemade books, scrapbooks, or photo albums full of people they know (try adding simple captions). Poetry and songbooks are good choices for this age group too. You may find that story time turns into sing-along time.

    Easy Ways to Keep Books Available

    Toddlers love to choose and look at books on their own. Keep books in a basket on the floor or on a low shelf where your child can reach them and look at them by themselves. Keep some books in the car and always have a few handy in your bag for long waits at the doctor or lines at the grocery store.

    Visit the library or the bookstore and let your child pick books to read at home. Many libraries and bookstores have toddler story times that kids enjoy. And let your child see you reading for fun. It's a great way to be your toddler's reading role model.

    (Video) 5 Reading Tips for Parents and Caregivers


    How long should parents read with their child? ›

    At kindergarten, plan to spend a minimum of 20 minutes daily reading aloud to your child. At 1st grade, stretch the time to 30 minutes, and once your child is beginning to read on her own, use some of the time to listen to her read. You can also engage in shared reading in which you take turns reading from a book.

    How often should a parent read to their child? ›

    A preschool-aged child who is read to at least three times a week, the study found, will herself be a better reader and thinker--she'll develop the reading ability of a child six-months older. Another finding: Consistent reading to small children improves their development of numeracy skills.

    How long should a 2 year old read? ›

    Books that you can read in 4-5 minutes are usually a good length for toddlers. Toddlers might especially enjoy: books with animals and animal noises.

    How many times a day should I read to my 2 year old? ›

    Reading to toddlers often (if possible, at least once a day) is a great goal. Choosing regular times to read (especially before naps and bedtime) helps kids learn to sit with a book and relax. But you can read anytime your child seems in the mood.

    Should I read to my child every night? ›

    Reading a bedtime story will give your child this exposure to new words (especially if you're reading the same book, night after night!) and so build their vocabulary. 'Reading aloud introduces children to new words and new ways of describing the world around them,' says Kate.

    Can most 3 year olds read? ›

    There is plenty of evidence to prove that three year olds can read. However, this is not the norm. The usual age for a child to start reading is around the age of five. And there's nothing wrong with waiting for your child to be older before beginning with reading lessons.

    How many times does a child need to see a word to read it? ›

    Basically, these studies suggest that the number of repetitions needed to learn a word is about 10-15 times, with lots of variation — among kids and words. For example, poor readers may require 12-25 reps to “learn” a word, while better readers may get away with only 8-12 (Lemoine, Levy, & Hutchison, 1993).

    How long should you read to your child at night? ›

    Talk about how the pictures relate to the story. Try for 20 minutes per day - Reading to your children for at least 20 minutes per day has a great influence on their ability to learn and retain knowledge. Reading 1-2 stories before nap and bedtime will easily get you to 20 minutes.

    How important is it for parents to read with their children? ›

    Study after study shows that early reading with children helps them learn to speak, interact, bond with parents and read early themselves, and reading with kids who already know how to read helps them feel close to caretakers, understand the world around them and be empathetic citizens of the world.

    Can most 2 year olds read? ›

    Most kids learn to read between the ages of six and seven. However, a 2-year-old can learn to read. Success requires patience, gentle repetition, and dedication from parents. Keep in mind that there are no hard-and-fast rules of when a child should start reading because kids' language development varies.

    How long should you read to your toddler each day? ›

    Reading for 20 minutes a night is just one of the most important things parents can do to help their kids succeed.

    Can 2 year olds read and write? ›

    In terms of skill level, most 2-year-olds can make a 'v,' a circle, and vertical or horizontal lines, although not with utmost control. By three, some children will be trying to write some letters or make “tadpole” people, which marks an important transition to representational uses of symbols.

    What is the best parenting style? ›

    Why experts agree authoritative parenting is the most effective style. Studies have found that authoritative parents are more likely to raise confident kids who achieve academic success, have better social skills and are more capable at problem-solving.

    What stage should YEAR 2 be reading at? ›

    Many schools will use a fully decodable phonics reading scheme for the youngest children and move on to banded books from Year 2 (Expected Level Turquoise).

    How long should you read to a 2 year old before bed? ›

    So, experts say 10-15 minutes. Literati says, read for as long as their little heart desires, without cutting into that much-needed sleep. And feel free to read the same book a few times over!

    How many books should a 3 year old read a day? ›

    Kindergarten And Younger

    We don't know about you, but 1,825 books can sound pretty overwhelming! Set your goal for five books a day while they're young. If you miss a day here and there, don't worry! At this age, one of the biggest benefits of reading is the additional words they're hearing.

    What age should a child read fluently? ›

    On average, most kids are able to read independently and fluently by the end of third grade, which is around when they are 9-10 years old. Children at this age are able to read simple sentences and storybooks. By age 11-13, your child should begin to use reading as a learning tool.

    What percentage of parents read to their kids each night? ›

    Overall, 87 percent of the parents who participated in the online poll read to their kids at bedtime—but not every night. Half the parents said that their children spend more time watching TV and playing video games than reading.

    Are early readers gifted? ›

    Children who are reading fluently before beginning first grade are likely to be perceived by both parents and teachers as intellectually gifted. This precocious mastery of a complex skill certainly merits the label “gifted” and calls for differentiated programming.

    Is my toddler gifted checklist? ›

    Checklist: Is your child gifted?
    • Did your child walk and talk earlier than most other children of his age and gender?
    • Did she show a comparatively early interest in words?
    • Does he have an exceptionally large vocabulary for his age?
    • Did she show an early interest in clocks, calendars, jigsaw puzzles?

    How much should my 3 year old be reading? ›

    Read aloud every single day, and make it an enjoyable experience. This is really the best thing you can do to help your 3‑ to 4‑year‑old learn to read. Life can get very busy, but if you can, try to read to your child for at least 15 minutes each day.

    What should a 2 year old know academically? ›

    Brain development milestones at 2 years
    • Starts to sort shapes and colours.
    • Can find things hidden under multiple layers.
    • Completes sentences in familiar books.
    • Plays simple make-believe games.
    • Builds towers with four or more blocks.
    • Can follow two-step instructions.
    • May start to develop a dominant hand.

    What is a milestones in reading? ›

    Reading Milestones is an alternative, language-controlled program designed to take readers to a fifth grade reading level. View Product. Reading Milestones Readers. The Reading Milestones Readers match student's language levels and progress to ensure continued constant improvement in reading.

    Can a 3 year old read sight words? ›

    At what age are children ready to learn sight words? A: Children's language skills develop at different rates, so we can't give you hard-and-fast age rules. Most children will be able to master a few sight words in Pre-K (four years old).

    How many books should I read to my toddler at bedtime? ›

    Don't overdo it
    Less than 1 year old5-10 minutes (or 1 book repeated)
    1 to 2 years old5-15 minutes (2-3 books or 1 book twice)
    3 to 4 years old10-20 minutes
    17 Feb 2022

    Is reading at night effective? ›

    Reading before bed can reduce stress

    Strong cognitive function can help reduce mental chatter, which in turn, helps us drop into a quiet state of relaxation. Reading a book or actively listening to a story are 2 ways to keep the mind engaged.

    What happens when children see their parents reading? ›

    Reading and Writing Materials for Parents

    When children see the adults around them using reading and writing in their everyday lives, they're more likely to become readers and writers themselves.

    What parents can do at home to help with reading? ›

    11 Ways Parents Can Help Their Children Read
    • Teaching reading will only help. ...
    • Teaching literacy isn't different than teaching other skills. ...
    • Talk to your kids (a lot). ...
    • Read to your kids. ...
    • Have them tell you a “story.” ...
    • Teach phonemic awareness. ...
    • Teach phonics (letter names and their sounds). ...
    • Listen to your child read.
    9 Sept 2015

    Why is it important to read at home with your child? ›

    Through hundreds of studies, it has been found that children that read at home with their parents perform better “educationally and socially than those that do not.” The age at which to start varies depending on the research, but in general: the earlier the better.

    How many sight words should a 2 year old know? ›

    Many parents wonder how many words their 2-year-old should know. While there's a wide range in the number of words toddlers use and when they acquire them, it's typically believed that children should be using at least 50 words by age 2.

    What books should a 2 year old be reading? ›

    14 Must-Have Books for 2-Year-Olds
    • Guess How Much I Love You. by Sam McBratney, illustrated by Anita Jeram. ...
    • Whistle for Willie. by Ezra Jack Keats. ...
    • Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night? ...
    • Adventures with Barefoot Critters. ...
    • Use Your Words, Sophie. ...
    • Wheels on the Bus. ...
    • Duck & Goose, 1, 2, 3. ...
    • Just for Me.

    Should a 2 year old be able to read numbers? ›

    Toddlers as young as 12 months old are able to recognize numbers. There are many ways you can work and play with your child to teach them numbers. When your toddler reaches the age of 3, they will even be able to start writing numbers.

    How long should a child read at home? ›

    “Students benefit greatly from a regular reading routine that involves at least 30 minutes of daily reading,” Parrasch says. “Ideally, students should be reading a variety of genres — or at the very least, a mix of fiction and nonfiction.

    How many times a day should I read to my baby? ›

    Try to read every day, perhaps before naptime and bedtime. Reading before bed gives you and your baby a chance to cuddle and connect. It also sets a routine that will help calm your baby. It's also good to read at other points in the day.

    Can a 2 year old read their name? ›

    While your baby may recognize their name as early as 4 to 6 months, saying their name and the names of others may take until somewhere between 18 months and 24 months. Your baby saying their full name at your request is a milestone they'll likely reach between 2 and 3 years old.

    At what age do toddlers start writing? ›

    By ages four to five, children will start writing letters.

    Children will learn to write the alphabet in preschool and kindergarten, but it may be beneficial to have your child practice writing his/her letters at home.

    Should a 2 year old be able to write their name? ›

    The simple answer is don't worry about it. There is no age that your child must know how to write his name. It will probably start emerging around 4 years, maybe a little earlier or later. If your child is too young developmentally to be expected to write, then the same applies to his name.

    What is the most difficult age for parenting? ›

    Forget the terrible twos and prepare for the hateful eights ‒ parents have named age 8 as the most difficult age to parent, according to new research.

    What is a neglectful mother? ›

    Uninvolved parenting, also known as neglectful parenting, is when parents provide little to no support for their children and make no demands. These parents lack warmth, affection, structure, and rules.

    At what age do kids become easier? ›

    They become quite independent as they reach 5-6 years of age, even wanting to help you with some of the chores! This is probably why most parents look at age 6 as the magical age when parenting gets easier.

    What phase is phonics in Year 2? ›

    Phase 6 phonics takes place throughout Year 2, with the aim of children becoming fluent readers and accurate spellers.

    Do children do phonics in Year 2? ›

    As your child continues through this year, there will be a continued focus on phonics and developing their skills further in writing and maths – exploring new concepts, developing their writing stamina and ensuring they have opportunities to work with more independence in preparation for the transition to Year 3.

    What age is phonics Level 2? ›

    A Parent Guide to Phase 2 Phonics (Ages 3 - 5)

    Is 7pm a good bedtime for 2 year old? ›

    Use the earlier bedtime during the transition from 2 naps to 1, and during the 18 month and 2 year sleep regressions, to make up for any lost sleep. By 2 years of age, you should start using 7:00 as your earliest bedtime; the 6:00 bedtime is more appropriate for younger toddlers. 7-8:30 p.m.

    Is 7pm too early for 2 year old bedtime? ›

    What time should a 2 year old go to bed? A typical bedtime for a two-year-old is between 7pm and 8pm. At age two your toddler needs around 11 to 14 hours of sleep in total over a 24 hour period. Roughly one to two hours of that will be taken up by their daytime nap, if they are still having one.

    How long should you read to your kids at night? ›

    So, experts say 10-15 minutes. Literati says, read for as long as their little heart desires, without cutting into that much-needed sleep. And feel free to read the same book a few times over!

    How much time should you spend reading a day? ›

    However, numerous studies have defined that 15-30 minutes is a minimum interval we should dedicate to reading each day. Neuroscientists agree that even simple lifestyle changes, like daily 15 minutes with a nose in a book, will support your brain health for a lifetime.

    What is the 5 hour rule? ›

    One of the key findings that comes up again and again is known as the “5-hour rule.” In short, this is the rule where we spend one hour a day learning, reflecting, and thinking. We do this five times a week (which makes up the “5-hour” rule).

    Is 1 hour of reading a day enough? ›

    You should read at least one hour every day without interruptions to be considered an average book reader. Those who finish a book every week usually engage in focused reading for 1.5 to 3 hours each day and have strategies to avoid distraction from smart devices and people.

    Is reading 1 hour a day good? ›

    Reading for an hour every day has increased your concentration, power to comprehend more quickly and efficiently. You have read almost all the genres and it has contributed to the overall development of your mind. Reading fiction helps you imagine and picturize things faster.


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