Shared by: Katherine Grier,  Librarian at York Avenue Preschool

I had the pleasure of speaking to the moms in York Avenue Preschool‘s new Parenting Group last week about reading aloud to toddlers. We all agreed that reading with our children cuddled in our laps is one of our favorite bonding experiences. And although many of our 15-to 24-month olds still cannot sit through an entire book and often find turning the pages the most fascinating part of the story, reading with them is still a worthwhile activity we try to do every day.

When you read to your children, they’re getting your full attention, and that’s what they just love. Nothing — no TV show or toy — is better than that! So, here are my personal tips for choosing books to read with your toddler and for getting the most out of your reading ritual:

What to Read to your Toddler

• Books with only a few words or sentences on each page that also have brightly colored, engaging illustrations are best. For me, the text and pictures are equally important. That is one of the reasons I love all books by Leslie Patricelli for children this age. Yummy Yucky, Blankie and The Birthday Box are three of my favorites, but you can’t go wrong with any of them.

• Books with rhythm, rhymes, repetition or predictable text help toddlers with word recognition and communication skills, and generally are fun. Most toddler books incorporate at least one of these elements. One particular favorite among my younger students is Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle.

•Choosing fiction and nonfiction/informational books about topics with which your child is familiar is a good bet. Good Night, Bunny/Good Morning, Bunny by Golden Books is a wonderful fictional story about familiar daily routines. First Experiences: Going to the Park by Roger Priddy is an engaging nonfiction board book about another familiar daily routine.

• Fiction and nonfiction/informational books about topics in which your child is particularly interested also are good choices. My 15-month old loves shoes–hers and those of everyone else in the family. She chews them, puts them on, takes them off and hides them. Two perfect books for her are the fiction book Shoe-La-La by Karen Beaumont and the nonfiction book Shoes Shoes Shoes by Ann Morris.

• It’s okay to judge a book by its cover. You have to narrow it down somehow; but just make sure you read the ones you like the look of before you buy or borrow them.  Sometimes covers are deceiving and the story is not what you expect.

• It’s okay not to like the award winners, best sellers and other kids’ favorites. Many people don’t understand the appeal of Dr. Seuss books or of Goodnight Moon. My older daughter and I struggled with that one ourselves until we turned it into a search and find book.

• It’s okay to go above or below recommended age levels.

• It’s okay if the book does not have a message or lesson. Toddlers are silly and they love silly stories. Silly Sally by Audrey Wood and Jamberry by Bruce Degen are two guaranteed crowd-pleasers.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Tips for Reading with Toddlers!