Christine French Cully: Hello! I am Christine French Cully, editor in chief of Highlights for Children, and today I would like to talk to you about the difference between reading to a baby and reading to a toddler.
Reading time is bonding time for both groups and they both get the same brain-boosting power from reading aloud; but, there are some differences to note. So lets dive in.
Babies up to one-year-old like looking at faces of people and familiar objects like balls and bottles, and especially photos of other babies. Somewhere between four and six months your baby will start to grab and try to hold books in an effort to mouth and chew them. By 12 months he or she will be turning pages with some help from you. Pat or start to point to objects on a page and repeat your sounds. When reading aloud, dont worry about following the text exactly. Stop once in awhile and ask questions or make comments. Your child might not be able to respond yet but this lays the groundwork for doing so later on. Sing nursery rhymes to your baby, make funny animal sounds or bounce your baby on your knee, anything that shows that reading is fun.
Babies love and learn from repetition, so don't be afraid of reading the same story over-and-over. Toddlers, children ages one to two years old prefer to look at pictures of children doing familiar things, like sleeping or playing. They like good night stories for bedtime, hello and goodbye themes, books with simple stories, rhymes or predictable text because they are honing their memory skills. Being a toddler is all about action, so you may have more success if you keep reading time short, simple and do it often.
A baby is enamored just by the sound of your voice, but toddlers want more. So to keep toddlers engaged point your finger to the words as you read them from left to right. Help the story come alive by creating voices for each character. Ask questions about the story and let your toddler ask you questions too, and don't worry, if they act out stories or just skip, romp, or tumble as you read to them. They may be moving, but they are also listening.
With these tips you will be able to engage your baby or toddler and have them fall in love with reading.