Reading to a child: 1 to 3 years

From 1 to 3 years old, your child develops his or her language in an impressive way. In fact, he goes from his first words to his first complete sentences. Reading stories to your child and looking at books with him or her promotes language development, awakens his or her interest in writing and enriches his or her imagination. In addition, books allow him to spend a wonderful time with you, regardless of his age.

Between about 12 and 18 months, your child learns to turn the pages of a book better and better. He is also becoming more and more interested in images.

Then, between 18 months and 3 years old, your little one gradually discovers the pleasure of being read to. He is also able to predict future words and the course of history. He loves repetition and probably asks you for the same book over and over again. Beware if you try to skip a passage!

Feel free to ask your babysitter to read stories. They are usually used to it and it is an activity that very young children enjoy very much.

Reading a book to a toddler

Between 12 and 18 months

  • Name what they are interested in, the actions of the characters as well as the objects.
  • Make the experience dynamic by being expressive, making noises (e.g., animal cries) and making connections between the images and objects your child knows (e.g., animal figures).
  • Ask simple questions starting with “where?” and “who?”, such as “Where is the tractor?” and “Who ate the apple?”.

Between 18 months and 3 years

  • Encourage your child to choose the book you will look at together. This will make him more interested.
  • Adapt to his pace and desires. Since a toddler’s attention is short, limit the story to 10 minutes. If he wants to read more, however, don’t hesitate to continue.
  • Read the real text, because it allows him to discover a varied vocabulary. If his or her interest decreases or the book is too complicated, make gestures to help him or her understand or tell the story in your own words, adapting to what your child understands.
  • Involve them actively in the reading. Ask him questions about the story, the characters, make him react with crazy remarks, connect the story to his daily life (e.g. the story of a child who doesn’t want to sleep or who celebrates his birthday).
  • When he starts to align 2 words (around 18 months), help him complete his sentences.
  • Personalize the story. Make your child the main character in the story and substitute the names of friends or family for the other characters.
  • Follow the sentences with your finger. You teach him that people write from left to right, that each letter has a sound and a meaning and, above all, that you do not invent history.
  • Register him in the library so that he can discover the pleasure of choosing his own books. Take the opportunity to attend the “Story Time” presented by your library. Your toddler will love listening to stories with a group of friends.
  • Cut out pictures from flyers or magazines and invite your child to invent stories from 2 or 3 pictures.

What type of book to choose?

Choose colourful books with concrete and easy-to-understand illustrations. More abstract illustrations are better suited for older children. Choose books with simple stories that are close to the child’s daily life (e.g. daycare, bedtime, potty, little brother’s arrival). This will help her through some difficult times.

Books on a particular theme (e. g. cats, trucks) are also interesting. They allow your child to learn more about the topics that interest him/her.

How to develop an interest in reading?

  • Often look at books with your child, even when it is not the evening routine. You can also read before a nap, at snack time, or even at bath time, with a plastic book.
  • Let your child choose the book you are looking at together when he or she is able to do so. Your toddler could often want the same book, and that’s normal. This makes him more secure and allows him to better understand the story with each new reading.
  • Borrow books from the library regularly. This way, your child will always have access to new books and will be able to develop an interest in different themes or types of books. Still, keep looking at his favourite books with him as much as he wants.
  • When you look at a book with your child, face him/her. So he can see you smiling and talking. It is also an opportunity for him to see how you pronounce the words.
  • Set up a small reading area in your child’s living room or bedroom to make them want to look at books often. Make sure he can take his books alone. The area can include cushions and blankets to create a fun and soothing reading environment.
  • Read books for yourself for your pleasure. In this way, you send the message that reading is pleasant and allows you to learn a thousand things. You are the ideal person to transmit to your child the desire to read, because you are his or her role model.