How to Read Picture Books to Toddlers: 5 Steps - MakeSureHow
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Introduce your toddler to the fascinating world found in books.

“Mommy, read it,” your toddler cries as she waves her favorite book at you. You smile because you know that reading to her means some cuddle time and a break from laundry or housekeeping. She loves the bright colors of her picture books and the repetitive sounds many of them use. Some of the stories you have read so often that she can almost “read” the story with you. If you leave out words, she tells you, “That’s not right, Mommy,” and makes you read it correctly.


  1. 1
    Find a comfortable place to sit. If she will sit in your lap, you might sit on the couch, in a chair or propped up against the headboard on the bed. If she prefers to remain close, but not in your arms, you might lie on the bed or on a floor cushion or sit together on the couch. Get comfortable and position yourselves so she can see the book easily.
  2. 2
    Open the book and read the words on the first page. You can ask her questions about what she sees on the page, such as “Look at the little white bunny. She is eating yellow flower tops.” This helps her begin identifying shapes, colors and common objects and builds her vocabulary. It also focuses her attention on what happens in the story.
  3. 3
    Notice something that adds to the story on successive pages, so that you intersperse reading text with looking at the action in the pictures. You might ask questions such as, “Can you find the mouse that’s hiding in the grass?” or “Where did the little bird go?” Give her time to check out the pictures. Reading with a toddler isn’t about how fast you can get through the book, but about the journey to the book’s end.
  4. 4
    Ask questions about what will happen next or how the main character might feel at important spots in the story. For example, your toddler can identify how she might feel if she was lost and couldn’t find you or might anticipate the wolf that’s about to sneak up to threaten the three little pigs. Involve her in the story to make it more enjoyable.
  5. 5
    Allow her to talk about parts of the story she really did or didn’t like when you finish the book. You might let her retell the story in her own words. She can do this while looking at the pictures or by memory. Don’t worry if she garbles the story. The more familiar she is with the story, the more likely you will hear her replay parts of the story verbatim. Praise her for her review and retelling and promise to read to her again later.

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Categories: Education and Communications

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