** This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may make a commision off of things I recommend on this page. All opinions are my own and I would never recommend something I do not love!**

Everyone knows that reading is important, especially with little kids. It helps build vocabulary, imagination, and communication skills. Reading with your baby or toddler also helps reinforce the bond with your child. And most researchers agree that it will help them in school later on if you read to them when they are young.

We started reading with Will when he was around six months old. By nine months he was turning the pages for himself and now, at fourteen months, he regularly brings books to me to read to him or sits by himself going through books. My mom is a kindergarten teacher, so most of our first books were gifts from her. Her advice was the reason I began reading to him at six months. I thought it might be too early, but she convinced me that it is never too early to be reading to our littles. And I am so glad she did.

Because of her, we have started instilling a love of reading in Will at an early age. He truly loves to read. Now, granted, he’s still a toddler with a short attention span so we don’t always make it through whatever story we are reading, but he gets excited when anyone picks up a book. He loves looking at the pictures and hearing mommy or daddy reading the story.

So how do you help grow a love of reading in a little one? Here’s where I started:

1. Don’t force it.

This is probably my most important one. You want to form positive associations with reading so forcing story time isn’t going to help. We have made storytime part of our bedtime and naptime routines, but if Will doesn’t want to read, then we just continue on with the rest of the routine. Sometimes we make it through half of a story, and then he gets up. That’s ok. I let him go;  maybe we will finish the next story we read. He goes through phases in which he will read ten books in a row and phases in which he will barely sit through one. We just keep coming back to the books and trying again.

We also keep his books where he can reach them. He throws them all over the place and plays with them; so we opt for board books. They are far more durable and a little smaller than the original books, so they are just the right size for him. By keeping them down low, he has the option to “read” by himself if he wants too. As I mentioned earlier, he also brings us books to read to him since they are accessible to him. When he does do this, we make a big deal about it. We smile, we clap, we get excited and plop down to read to him right away. This helps create a positive association with reading without forcing it.

The last way we help him lean toward reading rather than forcing it is by asking family members to give him board books for his birthday instead of toys. We really don’t need anymore toys anyway, and now Will has so many books to choose from.

2. Have enticing books on hand.

Babies and toddlers are intrigued by books that are brightly colored, high contrast, and entertaining. Choose books that have vivid illustrations and the opportunity to use different voices . Will’s favorites right now are Goodnight Gorilla and Giraffes Can’t Dance. Both have very bright pictures that he loves to look at. Books that I can sing to are also a big hit. Caroline Jayne Church has quite a few that she has illustrated songs like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and You Are My Sunshine that Will loves to hear me sing.

Another quality of an enticing book is the right length. It may be a fun story, but if it’s way too long for their little attention spans, they may not like it as much. Will has a few of these that I got because I remember reading and loving when I was little. I have since realized they are way too long for my little nugget. We still read them on occasion, but rarely do we make it to the end of the book.

3. Make storytime fun!

This is really what seals the deal. If storytime is having to stay still and quiet while mom monotonically reads a book and then it’s naptime, your little one won’t love reading. But if your mom is really excited and does a ton of funny voices for all of the times Grover tells you not to turn the page in There’s a Monster at the End of this Book, then storytime will become a fun and engaging event.

So what makes it fun? Your excitement is contagious. If you seem like you really want to read and smile about it and make a big deal out of it, guess what? Your kiddo will get more excited about it too. Then if you follow up your excitement with highly engaged and interactive reading, your toddler will enjoy it even more. In our house we like to use voices for different characters or sing certain parts of books. If a wall falls down or the caterpillar pops out of a cocoon, we pop or fall with them. We wiggle and giggle and sing and flop our way through books. And my kiddo loves it.

These are great places to start helping your toddler love reading. Also check out storytimes at your local library. Ours has baby storytime (ages 0-2) on Wednesday mornings and preschool storytime (ages 3-5) on Thursdays, and we LOVE baby storytime.

** This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may make a commision off of things I recommend on this page. All opinions are my own and I would never recommend something I do not love!**

 

What are ways you encourage reading? Share your tips in the comments below!

12 Comments

  1. We love storytime at our local library! We don’t go anymore since my kids are in preschool now, but that used to be my fave activity with my oldest when he was a toddler. Such fun and so good for their little minds!

    Reply
  2. Reading is a big priority for our family too! Like you, I keep the books down low so that they’re easy for my toddler to access. I completely agree that it’s never too early to promote a love of reading.

    Reply
  3. These are great tips! We used a very similar approach with our daughter, and she is now 4 and still loves stories more than anything else. She always tells me how important her books are!

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  4. Great tips! I was so worried when my second child just wasn’t interested but at 18 months old she became.OBSESSED.

    Reply
  5. We love to read! I have so many books and the one thing I constantly find all over the house and floors are books. Instead of getting upset, I smile realize they were enjoying the books too. Now, I just need to teach them how to put the books away! LOL!

    Reply
  6. I agree not to stress about it and to make it fun. My middle child isn’t as interested in books as my other two, but he does bring me books and asks me to read to him if it’s something that interests him.

    Reply
  7. Love this! It is most definitely never too young to start reading to our kids. I usually only give books at a baby shower!!

    Reply
  8. Not forcing it is the best advice ever!! They will love it when they’re ready!

    Reply
  9. This advice is so perfect! I absolutely love reading to my little one and by not forcing and keep trying it every night he now has become a huge reader.

    Reply
  10. Such great tips! Definitely no forcing, and I try to read every book that she wants me to no matter how many times we have read it before lol.

    Reply
  11. Hi! Just dropping by to let you know I’ve nominated you for the Blogger Recognition Award! I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog on my recent journey into blogging and I just wanted to share the love. Check out my acceptance post to learn how to accept your nomination: https://mysocalledcrunchylife.com/2017/09/06/blogger-recognition-award/

    Thanks for inspiring me, 
    Marie @ My So Called Crunchy Life

    Reply
  12. Love this bc I LOVE to read to my kids. It’s probably the most enjoyable quiet activity. We have always read at bedtime and yes, when they are little, you just have to drop it. My daughter used to space out and want to be done as a 1 year old. I thought she didn’t like books … now she loves them (2 1/2)

    Reply

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Hey there! My name is Rachel and I’m a 23 year old wife and mother. I’m decidedly in favor of DIY projects and decidedly against mom-shaming. This blog is my place to take a stand against superiority and to share ways to thrive in motherhood. My hope is that you leave this site feeling validated and encouraged in your mom-bilities.

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