The Importance of Reading to Toddlers; Jump Start Their Language Skills

If you are reading this post then you must be curious about reading with your little one. I want to help you understand the significance of reading to your baby and share my thoughts and experience of reading with my son, Jayden.

Long before my son was born I was attached to books. Maybe that’s why I chose to become an author. Reading not only improves our language skills, but it also teaches us social skills, helps us cope with stressful situations, and grows our imaginations immensely. This is not only with children but with adults as well. It is never too late to start reading, but the importance of reading to toddlers helps to set a beginning foundation and jump-starts their language skills.

The Reading Expedition

Where the World Ends, Geraldine McCaughrean

When Jayden was born I already had a small library of children’s books for him. I started early on in my pregnancy purchasing books here and there and they didn’t always have to be new. I was able to get used books on Amazon for a fraction of the price.

I wanted to make sure that reading was a crucial part of his life. Every night I would pick a book and read it to him. There were even a few nights that I would read the same story over again. But each time he would sit content and listen to the words as I read them. He was interested and invested in this time we were spending together and although he was only a month old I knew that he was just in love with these stories as I was.

Reading became a nightly routine for us but as he got older it got harder. Toddlers don’t like to sit still for longer than a minute so this made reading to him almost impossible. He wouldn’t run away or cry, instead, he would take the book from me and look at the pictures himself.

He wanted to do this by himself, so what could I do? I couldn’t very well take the book from him and make him cry so one thing his pediatrician suggested to me was this, I don’t have to read the story to him word for word. Just look at the pictures with him and make up a story as he turns the pages. So that’s what we do now.

Speech and Development

Since Jayden was about 16 months old he’s been saying small words here and there. The difference I noticed in him compared to other kids was, my sisters’ daughter needed speech therapy. My sister didn’t read to her. Not because she didn’t want to, but I think it was because there is not enough information out there about the importance of reading to babies and toddlers.

Another case was my other sister’s son, he also needed speech therapy and yet again, he wasn’t read to as a baby so his speech development was also slow. I find this very coincidental that both kids needed speech therapy and neither of them was read to as babies. But my Jayden was and he won’t need therapy.

I don’t know much about the medical aspect of it, nor the psychiatric part of it so I won’t pretend I do, I will simply tell you that reading to your baby is as important as washing your hands every time you use the bathroom.

Reading teaches them to speak, be imaginative, be social. It helps to develop their memory, their curiosity, and it gives them an encouraging relationship with books so when school starts they are already off to a good start.

When you start reading to your baby at an early age it helps to introduce them to vocabulary. It helps them to speak earlier and also helps with their pronunciation of words. Reading is a win for young minds and it only takes but 20 minutes a day to sit with your baby and read a children’s book with them.

Enjoy the Ride

One of the things I found enjoyable with reading to my toddler was changing my voice with the characters. Two of our favorite books with this are “The Pout-Pout Fish” by Deborah Diesen, and “Giraffes Can’t Dance” by Giles Andreae. Even I as an adult love these stories and I find myself reading them to Jayden more often than not. Another great book we enjoy together is Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast by Joshua Funk.

Reading with my baby isn’t only enjoyable for him but it is for me also. I find this as another moment in his life that I can bond with him. We get to laugh and look at pictures and have a good time while helping him to develop his intellectual skills and teaching him to be imaginative.

I’m hoping this time spent with Jayden will help him to have some of the abilities that I now have as an adult because when I was a child reading was very important in my house. Now that I am grown I enjoy creative things like writing poetry and short stories, painting, and drawing.

Giving my son but a small dose of understanding that can make him artistic, clever, and compassionate is something that I as his mother should be able to do for him, as with any parent and child.

Reading Advice

No matter the age of your little one, it’s not too late. Develop a routine to read with them or to them and eventually this habit will grow into something more. There are so many benefits to reading with your baby or a toddler, and they are advantages you wouldn’t want your child to do without. Reading is one of the most single important things you can do together.

Take 20 minutes, if your toddler is old enough let them choose the book and sit with them and read or let them read to you. It’s okay if they don’t know the words this encourages imagination. My son is three years old and he chooses the book he wants to look at with me. Sometimes even before I tell him to.

This is only the beginning but you are giving your child a lifetime of imagination, creativity, and independence. If you aren’t able to provide your child with the books you need for this journey, I can suggest this, make a time in your schedule for you and your baby and take him or her to your nearest library. I loved doing this as a child with my family.


Do you like to read to your baby or toddler?

If you would like to share your experience or have questions please leave a comment below. I would love to hear your opinions on this and I’m sure other moms would too. Thanks for reading my latest post. 

Do you think sing-along books will be a good fit for your toddler?

Check out this post on The Pinkfong Baby Shark Sing-Along Books.

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