The ABCs of Reading
Child development experts have cited knowledge of the alphabet as one of the most important skills—one that forms the foundation for enabling your child to learn to read. Exposing your two-year-old to the letters that make up his or her native language is a critical element of early literacy.
Memorizing and singing "The Alphabet Song" is important, but a good alphabet book (we recommend Dr. Seuss’s ABCs or the Baby Einstein Playful Discoveries title My ABC’s) will also teach letter sounds and show each letter in context as part of a word (think c is for cat).
As your child becomes more interested in plots and characters, give up the reins and let her take over as story teller. Be an active listener, helping to progress the story along by asking questions, pointing out interesting aspects, and reacting dramatically to events in the book. This role reversal, along with your encouragement, will build your toddler’s confidence in her “storytelling” abilities, making it more likely that she’ll choose reading as her activity of choice without any prompting from you.
Between two and three years of age, your child is beginning to learn the basic self-help skills that mark the end of toddlerhood. Along with potty training, she’ll likely show a strong interest in washing her own hands, starting her own bath water, brushing her own hair, choosing and putting on her own clothing, and other everyday grooming tasks. Reinforce this growing self-sufficiency by reading books that deal with these fundamental activities.
Read it Again!
Two-year-olds thrive on repetition. Don’t be surprised if your child insists on reading the same two or three books over and over again. Rather than try to convince her to choose another story, indulge her enthusiasm for her favorites. Although you might grow bored with reading the same stories, it’s quite the opposite for your little one. Even if she’s heard a story 20 times before, she’ll discover something new and exciting with each subsequent reading. Before long, she’ll likely start memorizing rhymes and phrases and reading aloud along with you—a key stage of emergent literacy and a great confidence booster!
A Passive Audience
Even if it seems like your two-year-old isn’t paying attention, she’s likely absorbing more than you think. Many older toddlers find it easier to listen when they’re occupied in another activity. If your child is having trouble focusing on a book during story time, try providing her with crayons and a piece of paper so she can color while you read. Before long, you’ll probably notice her sneaking peeks at the book and asking questions about what’s happening.