One of the joys of being a parent is sharing stories and books with your child. What books are right for your child? It depends on her age or developmental level. If your child has developmental delays, you may want to choose books developed for younger children. Toddlers often treat books like toys, so finding books that are sturdy and made of cloth, plastic, or thick cardboard are best. They like to handle books, and these are easier for them to hold and for you to clean up. Often toddlers look at only one or two pages at a time, so find books that are colorful and have pictures that she can recognize and you can name. Depending on your child’s abilities, you may be able to add games of naming, sounding, and rhyming when reading the book. For instance in the Big Brown Bear, caregivers can play with the words big, brown, and bear by emphasizing the B sound, the size or color of the bear, and the sounds the bear makes. They can also play with rhyming real words (bear, tear, mare, pear) or silly words (big, mig, tig, sig).
Sharing books is an easy way to entertain your child when you find yourself out and about, waiting for an appointment. Both new and familiar books are ways to “catch” your child’s attention when sitting at the doctor’s office. To keep his attention, think about words you can use. You can praise your child for sitting and looking; ask your child to point at pictures. If your child has words, ask him questions about the story and give him time to answer. Take turns talking about the book and turning the pages. Let him tell you the story in his words.
Sharing books can also be a part of your daily routine—something you do at the same time each day, such as after a meal or before bedtime. Your child will look forward to this routine and may even have a preferred book that she wants you to read over and over and over again. As your child grows in age and development skills, her choice of books will change. Older children like stories with illustrations that they can explore. He may be able to sit longer with you as you read or talk about the book and may even choose to sit alone and enjoy a favorite book for a few minutes.
Stories and books can be adapted to meet the developmental age of a child. You can simplify a story or you can expand and make up parts of a story. You can vary your voice to hold your child’s attention or indicate changes in the story. Read or tell stories as long as your child is interested. Let your child also tell or act out stories as she learns new words. Books can open new worlds to you and your child as well as give you new words.