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10 Benefits of Reading to Toddlers

It can be hard to read to a toddler who isn’t that interested in what you’re reading. Sometimes my little two year old will be glued to the page, but others the attention span just isn’t there. Still, it’s worth persevering, because there are some amazing benefits of reading to toddlers, from learning language and vocabulary to reducing stress. Even though your toddler may not talk to you in full sentences (or even in real words most of the time) this doesn’t mean that they’re not soaking it all in. In fact, the best way to increase speech and language in young children is simply talking to them as much as possible – and reading a book qualifies!

William “reading” Animalphabet

Tips for Choosing a Good Book for Toddlers

It helps to choose the right book. We all know that picking up Lord of the Rings is not going to keep a toddler interested for more than half a second and unlikely to be processed. You want to pick books that are:

  • Age appropriate with themes they can understand and process
  • Repetitive phrases or words that will be memorable
  • Large letters that they can attempt to follow
  • Illustrations that hold their interest and reflect the story
  • The right length to keep them engaged

Pre-school books usually have simple language, easy concepts to grasp and often rhyme or have a good rhythm to reading them as this helps children remember words better. If you find your child is particularly interested in a series, character or theme such as dinosaurs or “Hey Duggee” (William likes Hey Duggee so much we’ve even got the pyjamas!), then this can encourage them to concentrate more as they’re really interested in the content.

I’ve compiled a few lists of books that are excellent for toddlers around certain themes including:

10 Benefits of Reading to Toddlers

Now we’ve discussed how to choose a good book for toddlers and I’ve given you some suggestions for themed stories, let’s look at the benefits of reading to young children, from babies on!

1. Improves Reading Skills

This is the obvious take but I think is worth remembering. Children don’t need to have formal classes or studies to improve their reading skill. You don’t need to actively be teaching them for them to absorb. Although your baby or toddler may not be at the level they could read yet, you’ll be surprised how early they may begin to recognize shapes that form letters that go on to form words. Having a good foundation and familiarity with the concept of letters, words, books and reading will give them a head-start when they go to school and begin to officially learn to read

2. Improves Speech and Vocabulary

Even if they are not reading the words on the page, they are hearing them spoken. The best way to teach young children new words is to speak to them. As William is officially speech delayed, I’ve had quite a lot of experience with talking to health professionals about how to encourage young children to speak and the advice I get again and again is simply – say a lot of words to him. Talk to them about everything and anything, and reading will help you find something to talk about that doesn’t make you feel like a bit of a weirdo. I often feel like I’m talking to myself, but it does go in (or so I’m told!)

Since books are aimed at a young level, the vocabulary they use will be an excellent start for first words and using books with large pictures will help associate the correct word with different objects. Flash cards are also ideal for this, and you can use flash cards in conjunction with books to tell a story. We have a favourite book called Millions of Cats and using the flash card for cat when the story talks about the cats has really helped William say that word. Some children can really benefit from this extra re-enforcement, especially those who are struggling a little with their early words like my son.

I’ve put together sets of over 100 printable flash cards that are completely free to download and that you can then print at home.

3. Boosts Brain Development

Taking in new words, thinking about ideas, looking at pictures, listening to your voice with different inflections to usual, these things can all help boost development. We know that children who start reading early can find it easier in school in all areas, including subjects like Maths and Science

4. Develops Empathy and Understanding

Books can help develop early levels of empathy and understanding. You might wonder what a toddler can pick up if they don’t fully understand most of the words – but toddlers can be very empathetic at times (although ruthless at others!) and can learn from pictures as well as from your tone of voice.

5. Enhances Concentration Levels

My toddlers attention span is gone in the time it takes to blink, but by introducing books at an early age, you can increase this attention span and help improve concentration levels. Giving them something interesting to concentrate on will help, just count the increase in seconds at first!

6. Encourages Independent Thinking and Asking Questions

You might be sick of being asked “why, why, why…” but by encouraging our pre-schoolers to think about things and ask a question (even if it’s a really annoying one!) we really challenge their analytical skills and help them learn.

One for Sorrow by Mr Gresty

7. Develops Imagination and Creativity

This ties in with the importance of role play and imaginative play in the development of toddlers, pre-schoolers and young children. Reading books helps stimulate and develop the imagination and creativity, which will have an impact on other areas such as role play and arts and crafts. By opening little minds to the possibility of interesting ideas and strange new worlds, we’re giving them the opportunity to dream big and strive for success too! It sounds a little far fetched by it all ties together, and imagination is a critical part of child development.

8. Will Help at School

Statistics show that children who are good readers will naturally perform better at school, and that those who start reading at a young age have a head start over their peers. It’s not a critical thing and don’t worry if your child doesn’t take to reading, as it doesn’t mean they will be behind, but as a mum I always try to give him whatever advantages I can. If it turns out that he’s not a natural reader and needs a little more help at school then I’ll be there to give it, but there’s no doubt in my mind that reading a book every day together will help him at school.

9. Helps Create a Healthy Routine

Bath, book and bed is an easy to remember, simple routine that can really help settle a young child down. Having a good routine helps children to process things and can really help the whole family get a good night’s sleep. By introducing a book as part of the bedtime routine, you not only have all of the above benefits, but you help a child get into a healthy routine for going to bed and getting a good night’s sleep.

Warning though, you’ll soon have them asking for a second, third and maybe even a fourth book before bed as they learn to love the stories you are reading and they try to sneak an extra one before sleep!

10. Helps Strengthen Bonds Between You

Finally, reading to our children helps create bonds and strengthen relationships. This is an ideal time to have them sitting close, snuggling up next to us in bed, sitting on our laps in a chair, or just nestled next to us on the sofa. It creates a time when their attention is focused on you and the things you are saying and gives you an opportunity to have some quality one on one time.

Bonus reason – it’s fun! Ultimately, reading with your kids is a fun activity that can be done anywhere, any time, no matter what the weather or how much spare time you have. When you combine that with all of the above amazing reasons, you can see why it’s such a good idea to read at least one book a day with your toddler!

Win a 30 book Boxset with an RRP of £149.70

I’m running a competition to win an amazing start to your child’s reading. This 30 book collection by Ladybird includes four different levels so your child can advance their reading skills slowly, and feel a sense of accomplishment and progression. It includes a mix of classics like Peter Rabbit, The Ugly Duckling and Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and more modern titles that tie in with well known media characters such as Peppa Pig, Kung-Fu Panda and How To Train Your Dragon. It’s a boxset that can be shared amongst families and friends, well read and treasured. And one of my readers is going to receive it completely free!

30 book Children’s Fiction Boxset

Just let me know in the comments your favourite children’s book!

What’s your favourite children’s book?

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108 Comments

  • Reply Glenn Marvell-James February 18, 2019 at 10:18 am

    WHiffy Wilson the Wolf that wouldn’t wash

  • Reply Tracy Nixon February 18, 2019 at 11:01 am

    Room on a Broom!

  • Reply iain maciver February 18, 2019 at 11:26 am

    the gruffalo

  • Reply Lisa Sweeney February 18, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    Aliens Love Underpants!

  • Reply Georgina Prince February 18, 2019 at 1:16 pm

    my son loves gangster granny lol x

  • Reply Solange February 18, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    The Gruffalo

  • Reply Amy Simpson February 18, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    Very hungry Caterpiller

  • Reply Susan B February 18, 2019 at 3:47 pm

    The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one of the best young readers’ books ever written and illustrated so is my all-time favourite.

  • Reply John Prendergast February 18, 2019 at 4:47 pm

    The Gruffalo

  • Reply Joo Dee February 18, 2019 at 5:30 pm

    Nieces little ones love anything Peppa Pig or Paw Patrol!

  • Reply Katie February 18, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    Smartest Giant in Town

  • Reply Kim Styles February 18, 2019 at 6:03 pm

    The Velveteen Rabbit

  • Reply Margaret Clarkson February 18, 2019 at 6:33 pm

    Each Peach Pear Plum

  • Reply Amanda w February 18, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    Stick man!

  • Reply Caron Twyman February 18, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    Dogger

  • Reply Catherine S February 18, 2019 at 8:24 pm

    Stick Man

  • Reply Hali Kinson February 18, 2019 at 8:53 pm

    I love the hungry Caterpillar

  • Reply Martina Pichova February 18, 2019 at 9:19 pm

    We love the Gruffalo!

  • Reply Karen Usher February 18, 2019 at 10:05 pm

    The Jolly Olly Octopus. read it so much that I know the words of by heart!1

  • Reply Sean eccles February 18, 2019 at 10:05 pm

    We’re going on a bear hunt

  • Reply Karen Langridge February 19, 2019 at 12:09 am

    We enjoyed the Faraway Tree! Thanks for the competition x

  • Reply N MacDonald February 19, 2019 at 1:36 am

    The Rise and Fall of Claude the Magnificent

  • Reply Lisa February 19, 2019 at 6:05 am

    James and the giant peach is our favourite book at the moment.

  • Reply Tracy Newton February 19, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    I love The Twits

  • Reply Amy Butler February 19, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    Peace at last by Jill Murphy

  • Reply Chris Andrews February 19, 2019 at 9:33 pm

    Tell me what your favourite children’s book is! . . . . Matilda

  • Reply Sally Collingwood February 20, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    The Tiger who came to tea

  • Reply Sue February 21, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    Dear Zoo

  • Reply SianiD February 22, 2019 at 5:59 am

    An old favourite – the hungry caterpiller

  • Reply Ruth Harwood February 22, 2019 at 9:04 am

    She’s enjoying me reading her The Hobbit at the moment xx

  • Reply Elaine Savage February 22, 2019 at 12:47 pm

    Peace at Last by Jill Murphy

  • Reply Charlotte G February 22, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    I love reading The Tiger Who Came to Tea to my son 🙂

  • Reply Diane Carey February 23, 2019 at 6:08 pm

    Peppa Pig

  • Reply Lynn Neal February 23, 2019 at 9:08 pm

    The Gruffalo

  • Reply Claire woods February 24, 2019 at 9:26 am

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

  • Reply Claire Rees March 1, 2019 at 8:24 pm

    The Tiger who came for tea

  • Reply janine atkin March 2, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    we love the three little pigs

  • Reply claire griffiths March 3, 2019 at 7:39 am

    harry potter books

  • Reply Carol W. March 3, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    The Hungry Caterpillar is a favourite

  • Reply Angela Kelly March 3, 2019 at 1:09 pm

    I always loved The Tale of Georgie Grub which is sadly now out of print.

  • Reply Clare Hubbard March 3, 2019 at 3:29 pm

    We love Stickman

  • Reply Jo March 8, 2019 at 1:55 pm

    My kids have so many and we recently bought a pack of Julia Donaldson books which we all love. My oldests favourite is Charlie Cooks Favourite book and my youngest is The Cave Baby

  • Reply Anthea Holloway March 10, 2019 at 4:16 pm

    The Gruffalo is enjoyed by my grandson and granddaughter.

  • Reply kimberley ryan March 11, 2019 at 12:07 pm

    The Scarecrows Wedding

  • Reply Victoria Prince March 12, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    The Tiger Who Came To Tea! Always been a favourite of mine

  • Reply Emily NEasham March 12, 2019 at 8:40 pm

    The Gruffalo!

  • Reply James McLaughlin March 12, 2019 at 8:54 pm

    The BFG

  • Reply emma Howard March 12, 2019 at 8:54 pm

    We love The Gruffalo

  • Reply Janine Phillips March 12, 2019 at 9:04 pm

    The Hungry Caterpillar

  • Reply jacqui cheadle March 12, 2019 at 9:12 pm

    My favourite would have to be Matilda by Roald Dahl

  • Reply Rebecca Phillips March 12, 2019 at 9:48 pm

    The Snail and the Whale

  • Reply Jan Johnson March 12, 2019 at 9:55 pm

    The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew It Was None of His Business

  • Reply Max March 12, 2019 at 10:10 pm

    We all love Room on a Broom!

  • Reply Richard Saunders March 12, 2019 at 10:16 pm

    Dear Zoo

  • Reply Michelle Henderson March 13, 2019 at 7:45 am

    Charlie and the chocolate factory by Roald dahl

  • Reply tina glover March 13, 2019 at 9:21 am

    We love “We are going on a bear hunt” its a great book for little ones to get involved in.

  • Reply Kay Broomfield March 13, 2019 at 9:56 am

    Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl is my all time favourite children’s book.

  • Reply Michelle Smith March 13, 2019 at 9:57 am

    Dear Zoo

  • Reply Kelly Wheelhouse March 13, 2019 at 10:08 am

    I used to love the Biff and Chip books growing up! 🙂

  • Reply Alexandra Johnson March 13, 2019 at 10:24 am

    the great big block of chocolate by Janet Slater
    hard to come by now but i loved it as a kid

  • Reply Caroline A March 13, 2019 at 11:12 am

    Anne of Green Gables

  • Reply Jackie Dawson March 13, 2019 at 3:04 pm

    Funny Bones

  • Reply Imogen C March 13, 2019 at 6:52 pm

    Were going on a bear hunt!!

  • Reply Lorna Lyons March 14, 2019 at 6:45 am

    My boys love Tge very hungry caterpillar & the gruffalo however their favourite (and me to read to them) is The Hairy Toe

  • Reply Amanda Gregory March 14, 2019 at 12:12 pm

    I have always loved Enid Blyton’s Brer Rabbit stories.

  • Reply Danielle Sedgebeer March 14, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    The Gruffalo!

  • Reply Donna Caldwell March 14, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    Where oh where is Huggle Buggle Bear

  • Reply jo liddement March 14, 2019 at 8:36 pm

    I love the Paddington Bear books

  • Reply sheri Darby March 14, 2019 at 8:39 pm

    Mog The Forgetful cat

  • Reply Angela L Paull March 14, 2019 at 9:35 pm

    The Lumberjacks Beard

  • Reply gemma middleton March 14, 2019 at 9:41 pm

    I love The Twits, in fact I still love all Roald Dahl books.

  • Reply paul jackson March 14, 2019 at 11:31 pm

    Room On The Broom

  • Reply Michaela Turner March 15, 2019 at 6:45 am

    The tiger who came to tea

  • Reply Geoff Hibbert March 15, 2019 at 7:29 am

    The BFG

  • Reply jen harper March 15, 2019 at 8:14 am

    The Hungry Caterpillar

  • Reply Sandra Fortune March 15, 2019 at 9:38 am

    My little grandson loves the Goodnight Train

  • Reply Wendy Becker March 15, 2019 at 9:41 am

    Wind in the willows

  • Reply Dawn Underwood March 15, 2019 at 10:13 am

    Jaames and the Giant Peach

  • Reply Miss Tracy Hanson March 15, 2019 at 10:37 am

    All the Enid Blyton books from The Faraway Tree to The Famous Five. Luckily I now have “youngsters” (great-nieces and great-nephew) who are sharing my love of books.

  • Reply Hannah Igoe March 15, 2019 at 10:40 am

    So many to choose from but I loved the wolf wilder!

  • Reply Catherine Bullas March 15, 2019 at 10:45 am

    Stickman

  • Reply Sian Williams March 15, 2019 at 10:51 am

    Esio Trot by Roald Dahl

  • Reply Stef Acaster March 15, 2019 at 11:06 am

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

  • Reply paula cheadle March 15, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    I love Tom Thumb

  • Reply Helen Waller March 15, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    Hugless Douglas

  • Reply chris bull March 15, 2019 at 1:41 pm

    No! No! Charlie Rascal by Lorna Kent

  • Reply Jeanette Leighton March 15, 2019 at 2:11 pm

    My children love the gruffalo

  • Reply Steven Beasley March 15, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    The Gruffalo

  • Reply Averil Lea March 15, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    The Gruffalo

  • Reply Kim Neville March 15, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    Charlie and the chocolate factory

  • Reply Donna Tomlin March 15, 2019 at 4:18 pm

    My favourite book as a child was Fantastic Mr Fox

  • Reply Laura pugh March 15, 2019 at 4:27 pm

    The chronicles of narnia

  • Reply Sally angel March 15, 2019 at 5:03 pm

    Definitely has to be Five Minutes peace! An iconic book from my own childhood. As a parent I relate to the story itself surprisingly well and my children are swept up by the humour in it and are intrigued to find out what happens next! A truly great story!

  • Reply Jo Hutchings March 15, 2019 at 5:08 pm

    I love Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney.

  • Reply Helen Craigs March 15, 2019 at 5:32 pm

    My little grandson loves Peppa Pig books at the moment, I’m wishing he’d pick something different but he never tires of them!

  • Reply Tom York March 15, 2019 at 6:11 pm

    Oi! Frog

  • Reply Ali Fanstone March 15, 2019 at 7:51 pm

    My grandson loves Stckman

  • Reply Rebecca Smith March 15, 2019 at 8:40 pm

    Matilda by Roald Dahl

  • Reply Eilean Fraoch March 15, 2019 at 8:52 pm

    Chicken Licken

  • Reply Sabrina Baldock March 15, 2019 at 9:26 pm

    My favourite childhood book is Harry Potter

    (I accidentally wrote Harry potter in the box on the gleam app)

  • Reply Elaine Shaw March 15, 2019 at 10:31 pm

    Love Beatrix Potter books, especially Peter Rabbit

  • Reply Laura Findlay March 15, 2019 at 10:39 pm

    Me and my children love a book called Kitchen Disco. It makes us laugh and smile x

  • Reply Dean T March 15, 2019 at 10:54 pm

    Has to be James and the giant peach !

  • Reply Adrian Bold March 15, 2019 at 11:13 pm

    The Gruffalo

  • Reply Janine H March 15, 2019 at 11:26 pm

    Stig of the Dump

  • Reply Robyn Clarke March 15, 2019 at 11:32 pm

    The book with no pictures

  • Reply Heli L March 15, 2019 at 11:53 pm

    Gruffalo or an older one, The Bear under the stairs

  • Reply Andig March 15, 2019 at 11:53 pm

    The Dancing Tiger, i love the pictures as much as the story

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