Introducing Toddlers and Babies to Books

There’s an exciting world waiting for everyone when introducing toddlers and babies to books! Having fun sharing books with your baby or toddler is one of the best ways to develop their lifelong love of reading. Through regular positive interactions with books, you are helping create the building blocks of language and literacy development.

Reading to your child can begin from the womb, where they will hear the rhyme and rhythm of stories, associating this with warmth and security. Both as a baby and a toddler, the focus remains on making reading time something special, safe, and enjoyable. We have made a list of ideas to help you choose age-appropriate themes, pictures and colours of children’s books, as well as ideas for nurturing your child’s early literacy skills.

Fun Ideas for Introducing Toddlers and Babies to Books

Having fun is the name of the game when it comes to introducing books to your child. From singing the story, to talking about the pictures and making connections with your child’s experiences, there is also plenty to do. Here are some suggestions on making sharing books a wonderful time for all.

  • Read the pictures and sing the words – these early years are not about teaching your child about letters and full stops. Especially for a baby, written text is meaningless and not interesting to look at. Spending time talking about what is happening in the pictures, looking at the pictures from different angles and even asking your toddler to find something in the picture are neat things to do.
  • Make personal connections – if there is a dog in the story, and you have a dog at home or saw one at the park, make the connection. Props, photos and even holding up the picture next to the real object is great.
  • Get in character – when reading about different characters change your voice and make those funny noises and sounds with glee! This all helps nurture a child’s love of reading.
  • Be curious – phrases like “I wonder what will happen next,” and “I love the red apple. Is she going to eat it?” show your toddler or baby that you are engaged with them in the story and present in the moment.
  • Create a special reading place – one of the many wonderful things about reading, is that you can do it almost anywhere. Young children do like routines, so having a regular reading place or places is worth considering. It could be a spot on the couch with a comfortable cushion, a beanbag in their bedroom or while lying on the bed; as long as it is comfortable, cosy and safe, where doesn’t really matter.
  • Keep books easily accessible – a box on the floor, or on the bottom shelf of the fixed to the wall bookshelf, gives your child the opportunity to explore books whenever they want. A board book is ideal to place in front of your baby during tummy time. You can encourage your toddler to choose a book for you to share with them, and role play out loud the kinds of decisions you make when you are choosing a book.

Book Suggestions for Babies and Toddlers

Every book is different, and we’re not just talking about the story. The construction method and materials, theme, pictures, colours and physical sizes are all things to consider when choosing a book for your baby or toddler.

A book for a baby should be sturdy, not easily ripped and can take some mouthing. Having different textures, large contrasting-coloured pictures and recognisable images are important baby book attributes.

For a toddler, books with relatable and familiar stories are important, as is sturdy construction and being okay with some rough handling. Bright and cheerful pictures, lots of rhyme and repetition, as well as flaps and tabs to help with motor skills are positive book characteristics.

Make today the day you begin an exciting journey into the world of books with your baby or toddler and have fun!