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Toddlers(1-3 years old)

At This Age

toddler with book

Toddlers repeat words in rhymes and actions. Your toddler might ask for and join in saying favorite rhymes and songs that repeat sounds and words, like "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." Toddlers explore, repeat, and imitate alphabet-related songs and games. They under­stand that words in the book carry a message. Your toddler will begin to use writing tools to make marks.

After you finish reading the words on the page, your child may reach out and turn the page. When looking at a picture book, your child might name animals. She/he might point to some words as a story is read. Toddlers notice that the words rather than just the picture have meaning—they begin to understand that you are reading the word under the picture on the page.

Reading Together

Toddlers have short attention spans, so it's okay if your little one doesn't sit with you for the whole book; some storytime is better than no storytime. While you read, point to familiar words and pictures on the page. Your child will begin to understand that words can be put together to tell the story and hold the message. Invite your toddler to hold the book and/or turn pages as you read. Ask your child open-ended questions, such as, "Why do you think this happened?"

Let your toddler to choose her/his favorite book to read in the afternoon or for bedtime. Toddlers love rhythm, melody (even off-key), and the magic of music. Play CDs or playlists of favorite children's alphabet songs and games. Stories and music benefit your child far more than any kind of screen time. Help your toddler make her/his own book. Your child can draw pictures and you can write the story for the picture.

Authors to Enjoy

Alma Flor AdaListen to Alma Flor Ada read a poem from her book in Spanish and English at TeachingBooks.net.

The Big Picture

Like a plant that is taking root in the soil, your toddler is learning about the world around her/him, even if you can't quite easily observe all she/he knows. Your toddler's brain needs to experiment with how things look, feel, sound, smell, and taste. Understanding colors, letters, numbers, animals, and opposites gets your child ready for school. Reading favorite books again and again helps build important brain connections.

© 2013 Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction