7 Ways to Engage Your Toddler in Reading and Word Fun
As a child, I’ve always loved books and my parents could easily leave me at the bookstore to get on with their shopping.
Now as a mother, I hope to instill a love for reading in my kids, so they too, can enjoy the wonders of getting lost in the literary world of imagination.
There are a myriad of wonderful reasons why one should enjoy reading, and your little one too, should be exposed from young to inculcate the love for books and words.
It’s easier said than done, no less. More so with having limited time with baby V since hubs and I are at work mostly, and our weekends are spent running errands, shuffling to events/functions or visiting my in law’s.
To build a love for reading takes time, effort and plenty of patience, and definitely not impossible!
Here’s how you can inculcate that reading habit at a young age:
#1: Be consistent and establish a routine
Most families do a bedtime story every night. And like everyone else, we tried that and got too caught up in trying to get Vera to tone down and get ready for bed.
Instead, we decided to convert a small section of her room into a reading corner so she associates reading time or any table work with this space.
Also, mummy sometimes want “me” time and get a little lazy desperate, so daddy takes over and is
ordered requested to read with her.
Needless to say, I’ve observed that Vera is more attentive when daddy reads to her these days, and yes, familiarity and habits help form a routine – there, I’ve come clean!
#2: Have a conducive space for reading
Creating a conducive space makes reading more productive for your child, so she gets to concentrate on her books, and at the same time, associate this space for quiet work.
The key element to this space is sufficient light, and natural sunlight is the best option. Choose a space within your home that offers a good amount of incoming sunlight, if possible, or be sure to affix an appropriate light source within the room to offer visibility.
Reading and near work requires the eyes to focus, keeping the distance about 30cm. So do ensure that your child take breaks in between to allow the eyes to rest and focus on distant objects instead. Healthy reading routine can be developed with good eye care habits.
Remember to let your toddler take water breaks too, especially since the weather has been rather cranky lately. While the adult gets sips of water especially after exhausting your saliva, the little one needs a cuppa too!
The OXO straw bottle ($17.90) comes in 3 lovely colours, and we picked the androgynous shade of green! Its transparent body allows you to see how much liquid is left, and if there are any weird floaters inside (e.g. ants!! or food) – and I get quite annoyed with those ants who love swimming in our water.
#3: Explore new ways to find out what works for your child
Admittedly, I get overly excited over books at times and would want to lug home truckloads for Vera, only to be reminded that she already has new books, and we should be spending more time reading the current ones with her instead.
As a child, I loved Word Games such as Boggle and Scrabble (anyone else??), and I’ve always hoped that some day, Vera would be able to play them with me again. But at 21mo, she’s not some whizz kid who has supreme mastery with words, so I’m keeping my realistic hat on.
When Monday Madness spoke to us about the educational toys they had, I was immediately attracted to the Spelling Game ($12.90) which comes with a set of 52 alphabet tiles and 60 double-sided game cards with pictures and the corresponding word to spell it.
I was a little apprehensive and afraid that Vera would not be keen on this at all. But I guess, you wouldn’t know until you’ve tried right?
What I did, was to show her pictures of items that she already knew, so she would be familiarised. Simple words such as milk, cat, dog, are easy and short words. And obviously, she doesn’t know the letters yet, so I picked out the relevant letters and placed them in front of her to get her to press them down onto the stand. She had fun doing that, and once we were done with one card, I’d asked her for the next word. It’s quite easy to search because the cards contain simple words that toddlers would be exposed to.
We’ve also taken this opportunity to teach her to keep the different elements of this game into the box after playing. So, all those letters will be placed in the pouch and zipped, game cards stacked and tied by mummy/adult and all three items placed neatly within the box and closed. To us, it is important to teach her to keep her toys after use. Building responsibility into her daily life should start from young too, lest the poor habit of waiting for others to pick after her sets in.
The only thing to be mindful about? There are a couple of spelling errors on the cards, so you may wish to edit it on your own – and it’s as good as new!
#4: Accept that there are some days she won’t want to read
Adults have moods, and so do kids.
Should we then “force” them to read? Not so, at least not when the child is at the start of building a relationship with books. It might backfire and cause negative associations with reading, and she might just dislike reading altogether.
Try other activities other than books – singing, playing with other games, flash cards, videos etc. There are educational options as well, and the underlying motive should be fun learning, not learning to excel at this stage, in my humble opinion.
#5: Let your child choose the books she wants to read
I know it might sound silly – what does a toddler know, right?
Well, I did just that when it came to choosing her preferred book set. I was torn between The Berenstain Bears Phonics Fun ($18.90) and Biscuit Phonics Fun because she knows the names of both animals. Her choice was clear though and so I was pretty much looking forward to receiving the set after the order was placed!
It’s a phonics book set with 12 little books, and instructions are included for adults, especially if you’re clueless on how to begin.
So, what exactly is phonics?
According to the Department of Education in UK, Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. They are taught how to:
- recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes;
- identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make – such as ‘sh’ or ‘oo’; and
- blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word. Children can then use this knowledge to ‘de-code’ new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.
Like you probably already know, we aren’t those “super on” parents who diligently do educational stuff with Vera. So reading these books was more of to get her to sit down and focus as she’s pretty active.
#6: Make the story come to live with animated voices
Remember those storytellers during birthday parties or at the libraries when we were younger? They always managed to engage the kids with their voices, didn’t they?
Kids love the sound of voices and the different octane and wavelengths produced makes it fun for them to listen to.
So, when you are reading to your child or playing pretend with her toys and enjoying a tea party, give each toy a voice and speak to her. Interaction makes it fun for your little one, and different voices expose her to a wealth of emotions and messages that are conveyed.
#7: Keep trying and be positively patient
If your child does not show interest in reading, take heart if he’s still at a very young age. Usually when they start going to preschool, with exposure in the classroom and peers, these seemingly boring activities would be part of the classroom curriculum, and that might pique his interest.
It’s important not to flare up or show frustration when your child refuses to read. Ask yourself: Do you or your partner (and those around them) read often? Does your child see you reading more than the time spent on your digital devices? Children often look to their parents as role models, and if you wish for her to pick up the reading habit, it’s about time you do the same too.
Do keep trying, by sneaking in pockets of short reading time. 5 minutes a day is good too – it need not be 30 minutes. Every little effort counts!
We hope you find these tips helpful in getting your toddler to read. Would you like to WIN the spelling game and book set for your child too? Read on to find out how!
***EXCLUSIVE GIVEAWAY FOR READERS***
Stand a chance to WIN a set of Monday Madness educational goodies!
Terms & conditions:
1) Contest ends on 28 August, 2359 (Singapore timezone).
2) This contest is opened to local addressees only.
3) Limited to one winner per household.
4) Winners will be announced on The Hooting Post, and winners will be required to provide their contact details so the Monday Madness team can get in touch with you to claim your prizes.
5) Terms and conditions may change without prior notice.
About Monday Madness
Monday Madness was started by two “mad” mummies, Angie and Irin. We feel you as mums, the daily mad rush for time, the urge to shop for your kids but with limited time on hand. Monday Madness was created for the busy mums, and a variety of products including educational toys, books and household essentials are curated for the family.
If you are heading to the SuperMom Bazaar on 28 – 30 August, don’t forget to visit booth P08 to check out the amazing discounts and new products too!