Language Development: How to read to infants

Language Development: How to Read to Toddlers

Before reading a book to a child, try to find time to read it yourself. Familiarise yourself with the story and content. Think about how you can possibly add some acting. Do a little dance, if appropriate. Perhaps act the story for them, sock puppets can add tonnes of fun. Reading is about having fun and learning together. This way you can also spot things in advance that the child might find puzzling or disturbing.  When it’s reading time, don’t disturb them from something they are enjoying, to look at books.

Encourage toddlers to choose which book they want to read, and let them hold the book and turn the pages. The first time you read a book, they may just want to look through it, so don’t worry if you have to miss out on bits of the story. The main thing is to let them enjoy exploring the book, you can read the story another time. Expect toddlers to interrupt, and be ready to respond if they make a comment or ask a question.

Language Development: How to read to infants

Before you start reading, switch off any distracting background noise. Find a comfortable spot to sit. Let the child curl up or sit on your lap so its easy for you to assist turning pages if required. Then look at the front of the book and say the title. Read slowly. Let the story sink in. Ask questions on every page. When you read, talk about the  pictures. Use lots of sound effects and expression. Point to the words as you say them so the child can associate the words with the letters on the page. Point out things that the child may have missed. Ask the older toddlers to point to things for you. Ask them basic questions. Try to link text and pictures to a toddlers own experience. Use your voice to add to the stories characters.You can incorporate simple props. like their favourite teddies, toys or make finger puppets. As they get to know their favourite stories, encourage them to rhyme along with the words.


  • If the child isn’t interested, stop and try again later.
  • Try create links back to stories from real life later.
  • Talking to toddlers about books and stories you have read together is an excellent way of developing their language skills.
  • Toddlers will love hearing their favourite stories over and over again, so be prepared to read the same book many,many times. This is really important for their language learning.

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