6 Ways To Get Your Toddler To Read A Book With You

Bridget Hillsberg
July 25, 2019

When you have a baby, you dream of the day that you can snuggle up with them and read a book. In that fantasy, you read every word on each page while your sweet child stares back at you listening intently. Then reality hits! Now you have a toddler and you are desperately chasing them around the house pleading for them to pay attention to the book that is in your hand. Sound familiar? So how can we get our little ones to attend to a book (even if only for a minute or two)? At Speech Sisters, we want to share 6 tips to make book reading more enjoyable for you and your child!


You want to be facing your child while reading a book. You can both belly lay on the floor facing each other OR place your child on the couch and you sit on the floor facing them OR even prop them up on your knees facing you. This allows your child to watch your mouth and facial expressions while you read and makes the experience more entertaining for them.


Your child may not be ready to listen to long complex sentences, let alone an entire story. This may feel strange at first, but try to just highlight a few words or a simple sentence on each page rather than reading the book verbatim. POINT to the picture in the book that you are labeling. So rather than reading EVERY word in The Little Blue Truck, you may point to the truck and say “blue truck, beep-beep”!


Let’s face it, your child LOVES when you say fun, silly sounds and words, and especially when you pair them with animated facial expressions or gestures! You want to start incorporating these fun sounds and words into book reading. So, back to The Little Blue Truck book example, instead of saying “Horn went ‘beep’! Engine purred. Friendliest sounds you ever heard.” You can simplify this by saying “beep- beep” while tapping the little blue truck and then repeat “beep-beep” a few times while pretending you are beeping a horn with your hand! Other fun sounds we LOVE to use during modified book reading include: yum, nom nom nom, yuck, uh-oh, bye-bye, whoa, oh no, yay, go, boom, beep, ouch, boo, wee, shhh.


This may seem really silly but, bring the pictures in the book to life! Make the Little Blue Truck drive fast on the floor by sliding the book along the ground quickly while saying “fast” or “vroom”! Make the Little Blue Truck book stop short and say “whoa” or “beep”. If you have a vocabulary builder book you may pretend to drink a glass of milk “gulp-gulp-gulp” or eat the food items in the book while repeating “yum” or “nom nom nom” or “eat” over and over again! You eat a few items and then have your toddler pretend to eat a few items.


Sometimes giving our little ones a little control over a book or toy will motivate them to stay engaged in the activity. Try this out with a flap book and let your child be the one to open the flap! We absolutely LOVE the book called “Where’s Spot” for this type of activity.


We can’t stress this enough! Repeat the same words over and over again when reading books. This may mean repeating the same word or phrase throughout a book (think Brown Bear), but this can also mean repeating the same words within the book every day. When we start reading “Where’s Spot” with our clients and own children, we repeat the same word on each page…as we shut the flap we say “bye-bye” to each animal under the flap. When you repeat, they remember!

To learn simple and effective strategies to help get your little one talking, check out our Talk on Track (newborn-14 months) and Time to Talk: Toddler Course (15-36 months). We’d love to equip you to experience the joy of your little one talking to you!

Bridget Hillsberg
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