5 Easy Ways to Enjoy Books With Your Kids

One of the goals of reading with your toddler is to expand his vocabulary and language skills. The more books you read together, and the more frequently you read them, the more language he will learn. Plus, snuggling into the sofa together to spend a few minutes enjoying a Books from Birth selection can make him feel valued and loved and special.

5 ideas to make reading a favorite book more interesting! Tweet this!

But did yo​u know that reading together can be more than just reading the words on the page? Talking about the illustrations and ideas is another way to actively include your toddler during shared reading. Below are a few simple, fun, engaging ways to draw your toddler into a book and make the most of the experience.

1. Complete the Sentence

One way to engage your little one in the story is to simply play "fill-in-the-blank." Illustrations are a great starting point for this. Let’s start with Corduroy. Look at the cover together and point out that "Corduroy is missing his ____" (button). After you've read the story a time or thirty, maybe start a line from the story and let her finish it. One of my favorites is when Corduroy wonders if the store escalator is a mountain, and says, “I think I have always wanted to climb a _____ (mountain).” You’ll find that after reading a story endlessly, she’ll be able to fill in any number of blanks!

2. Recall the Details

After you have read a Books from Birth selection, you can ask your little guy to remind you of bits and pieces that he remembers. Recall will help with his memory development as well as his language skills. After reading Little Monkey Lost, ask him to tell you what kind of animal the story is about or ask if he remembers what all the other monkeys in the troop do all day (sleep). Then dig into the story again and check out all those monkeys one more time!

3. Ask Open-Ended Questions

Open-ended questions don’t have one right answer; illustrations are a great starting point for these. Your little one might love the book Easy Street, with all its construction workers, large machines, and powerful equipment. The illustrations show the steps the crew must follow to build a road from start to finish. Examine the pictures and ask her where this new road might take you or talk about different kinds of roads you’ve seen before and where they go. Open-ended questions encourage her to be creative and use her imagination.

4. Ask the “W” Questions

“W” questions are ones that begin with who, what, when, where, or why. These questions are your “were you looking and listening?” questions, the ones that have correct answers. “What was this story about?” “Where did this story happen?” “Who was the main character?” After reading The Snowy Day, ask about Peter: “What did Peter see outside his window?” “Where did Peter play all day?” “What happened to Peter’s snowball when he came inside?” Use the illustrations as reminders in case he needs a little help.

5. Relate the Story to Real Life

Stories are great ways to escape into another world, but relating them to your own is valuable as well. Llama Llama Mad at Mama is a funny story about little Llama having to run errands with Mama Llama when he’d prefer to stay home and play. (Been there?!) As you read this gem with your daughter, talk about times she’s had to stop playing in order to go somewhere with you. Many of the pictures in this book show how Llama is feeling. Ask her about those feelings and about times she’s felt that way, too. Share some times when you, too, felt like that and how you were able to make a change.

Books from Birth provides families with engaging stories to share at home with our youngest readers. Spending time together reading with your child not only helps him feel secure and loved, but also helps with his language learning. We hope you’ll find these suggestions for actively engaging your toddler in the reading process to be enjoyable and helpful. You are your child’s first teacher and what he learns with you is important. Remember, the first years last a lifetime.

Jennifer Wilson

Jennifer Wilson is a graduate of Rhodes College and the University of Memphis. After years of teaching in early childhood education, she is now a full-time, work-at-home mother. She and her husband, Scott, have three children, ages 15, 12, and 6. She lives in Memphis, TN.