helping children develop creative thinking


How to Read a Story to Toddlers: Seven Strategies for Maximum Learning and Fun

Posted by teachcreativity on June 7, 2013 at 4:45 PM

To a toddler, a story is more than just a story - it's a whole new world, with new characters, new places, and new pictures to explore. Maybe there are words they’ve never heard before, or animals they’re unfamiliar with. Most of all, a story is a special time to share with you. So don't rush through it. Take your time and then read it again and again, whenever your children want to hear it. Here are seven ways to read a story to your toddler to get the most fun, meaning, and learning from it.

Read the story 'straight though', at a slow, leisurely pace. If your toddlers ask, "What's that?" about an animal or object, explain patiently. If you don't know the answer, say so, and make plans to look it up. Read with expression and interest, exploring with your toddlers together.

Add animal sounds and funny voices. For instance, if a pig enters the story, you could say, "What does the pig say? That's right, oink oink." Enjoy making the silly sounds with your toddlers. Also, an elephant might speak in a low, deep voice, while a mouse could speak in a high, light squeak.

Add sound effects. If there's wind, blow a breeze to tickle the toddlers’ faces. If there's thunder, clap your hands to make a big crash!

Point out details in the illustrations. "Do you see the birds in the sky? Let's count them." "Ooh, look at her beautiful dress. What color is it? That's right, pink."

Ask questions about the characters. "Why do you think they were scared?" "What do think Squirrel will do now?" Get your toddlers more involved in thinking about the meaning of the story.

When your toddlers are familiar with the story, let them "fill in the blanks." Many picture books are written in rhymes, so when you come to the second rhyme, you can stop and let your toddlers say it. For instance, "The duck said quack, the cow said moo, the rooster said...."7

Play "What might happen next?" When the story is over, ask your toddlers what might happen next. Spin out a whole new story if you want. See where your toddlers’ imagination leads them!

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