How to get your toddler to love reading

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5 fun ways to get kids into books and reading

Fun ways to get kids into reading

Reading 'Elmer, Rose and Super El' with a crochet Elmer toy Bookshelves with piles of books Black and white stripe play house Reading 'Miffy' on a Wobbel board Reading an Ikea catalogue in a play house Reading corner with cushions, a quilt and an elephant toy 'Miffy is Naughty' book with torn pages

I am no expert, and I don't pretend to be. I have a 2-year-old who loves reading and these are some of the things we have done to encourage her to love books. There have been a couple of book casualties along the way but that is the price of letting her explore books. 'Miffy is naughty' has a few ripped pages (the irony is not lost on us), 'Where's Spot' has had multiple flaps repaired and 'Ten Little Fingers, Ten little toes' has been repaired multiple times as the spine has split from being read so many times, but we still let her turn the pages. So far, she loves books.

Check out your local library

In my area (Tower Hamlets in London) we have Idea stores. At the Idea Store, there is a library, study space, public computers and more. I recently took my 2-year-old to the Idea Store to sign her up for her own library card which she was so excited about. She loves scanning her card when we borrow books and they gave her a book bag to keep the borrowed books safe. When we got home she ran straight to the sofa and got her books out and insisted I sat with her to read them. 

Borrowing books is a great free way (unless you get overdue fees) to introduce a wide range of books to your kids and find out what interests them. If they don't like a book or get bored of it, you can just return it and choose a new one without paying for a brand new copy, and if they do love it, you can buy a copy for yourself knowing it will be loved. Plus, going to the library (especially for Covid kids) is a real treat!

Make it interactive and fun

There are lots of ways to make books more interactive. We are very lucky to have crochet versions of some of my favourite book characters that my Mum made for Mia. When we read books, we encourage her to get the matching toys or other toys that fit the theme of the book. She puts the toys on the pages and imitates what she sees in the illustrations. We imitate animal noises and give characters funny voices, basically anything to keep her interested and encourage her to interact with the book.  As she has got older she has started pretending to read books to her toys and has started to repeat words from her favourite books. 

Fabric books are great for babies and can be used for tummy time and encourage them to grab and reach. Touch and feel books or books with flats are also great for older babies and toddlers adding a tactile element to the books. 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a great book to use props with. You could print pictures of the foods if you don't have food toys and get your child to colour them in, then you could cut them out then have a themed tea party.

Create a cute reading area with easy access to books

We have created a 'book wall' to store Mia's books in her room. It is just 3 cheap Ikea shelves on the wall. She can reach (most) of the books and see most of them easily. Now and then I move some of the books from the back to the front so she can see them too. We also keep books in the living room and take a book with us when we go out so she can read at the table if we are waiting for food. 
We also have a little playhouse with cushions she can sit in, but sometimes she just likes to sit on her Wobbel board to read or just in the middle of the floor. A pile of cushions is also a really cosy space to read.

Bookmarks

Finding bookmarks that fit in with their interests or match a book's theme can help get kids more interested. You could reward your child with a new bookmark when they finish a book (you could end up with A LOT of bookmarks if your child catches on to that). 

Shop my dinosaur bookmarks here. There are superheroes, ballet, swimming/scuba-themed bookmarks, a bookmark with onomatopoeia (when a word sounds like what it means eg. POW!, ROAR! and STAMP!) also one with lots of different dinosaurs, flying reptiles and swimming reptiles scattered on it. 

Get the family to join in

All my family live in Australia so visiting them is hard. We do a lot of video calls which can get a bit boring for toddlers. We have given our parents a couple of books and bought the same books for Mia so she can enjoy them with her Grandparents over a video call. They read the books and she has her own copy to turn the pages and look at the illustrations. This makes a lovely gift and I hope these books will become nice memories for when she is older. To make it cuter we chose books that matched the names Mia calls her Grandparents. Noni and Ro have 'Noni the Pony' and 'Row Row Row Your Boat' (we have a really cute Australian version). These books are loved by Mia and we read them to her most nights too. 
Making reading part of your bedtime routine is also a nice way to spend some time with your kids and a lovely way to wind down before bed.

Basically, anything that makes reading more fun is good in my opinion!

Reading 'Where's Spot' with a crochet Spot toy Reading a book to a dog toy Lying on a play mat reading a fabric book Reading 'Koala' with a koala toy Reading 'Happy Christmas, Maisy' and lifting the flaps in the book Holding our hands while reading 'the otter who loved to hold hands'

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