The happiest memories of our childhood are sure to include moments spent huddled near our mother or grandmother listening to stories of princes and princesses which used to transport us to a different world! This was a precursor to early reading skills which later on made some of us avid readers. I am sure as a parent we should also imbibe the same reading skills in our children. Research has proved that children benefit from the reading aloud that they hear right from their birth (or even before). However, reading aloud on their own is the best way to inculcate reading habits plus a good grip over the language, besides proving to be a worthwhile hobby.

Where a toddler is concerned, by the term ‘reading’ we refer to the ability to string together letters to form short words and not sentences. The capability of reading becomes pronounced only when the child is about five years old. As toddlers, most kids are yet to form the required neural connections that help decipher letters and combine them to form words. This is the age when you can start encouraging your toddler to learn the basics of reading.


How to develop pre-reading skills:

This is best initiated when you start reading out to them. Please do not try hard to make your toddler read now. Remember the following points-

  1. Introduce picture books to your baby as early as six months.
  2. Between 1 to 2 years the toddler is ready for rhyme books.
  3. After 2 years they enjoy picture books that have simple texts and more pictures.
  4. Let your child feel the book and hold it.
  5. You can introduce reading as a bedtime ritual.
  6. Create a reading corner in your house and make it as warm and inviting as possible with chairs and books.
  7. Be patient as the attention span of a toddler is short.

Tips to help you get your toddler to pre-read -

  1. Make books accessible: Most kids like to explore while playing. Leave books lying around where she can find them and start to doodle or colour.
  2. Encourage her to make connection: Association helps kids to connect. Show her the picture of a dog and talk about a dog she has seen. Bring in descriptive words like tall, short, colours, etc.
  3. Make it a bonding time: Reading is a good time to bond with your child. As she snuggles to you and you point out words and pictures, sharing a book together becomes a happy activity for both.
  4. Go for variety: Choose different kinds of books as your toddler will get bored very fast. Opt for different colours, textures and pictures while selecting books. Choose animals, vehicles, birds, etc. which children like to see.
  5. Introduce rhymes: Toddlers have an immense power of memorising even though they cannot read. So if you read out rhymes and ask them to sing along they will learn the songs very quickly.

Reading is an ability which varies from child to child. Some of them may begin early while others may take a while. Each child is different and be gentle in your approach. Do not make reading time an ordeal by pressurising your child. This may put him off and make him averse to reading. Be positive and confident in your approach and make reading fun.

Happy reading!

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