Last time I talked about some of the things we can expect Infants and Toddlers to learn through the use of books. I ended by saying that we cannot expect Infants and Toddlers to sit for a story like Preschoolers, so what exactly do we expect for them to do with books? That is a really good question! Lets talk about some age appropriate uses for books.
Just like Infants and Toddlers aren’t able to sit for a story like preschoolers, they also aren’t able to use and appreciate books in the same way that preschoolers or older children are. Infants and Toddlers explore books differently, oftentimes with their mouths, and that is completely ok! As their senses are developing they want to explore their world through all of their senses. Having plastic books or sturdy board books will allow for mouthing without destroying pages. Another great idea are bath books, mouth away!
Another sense that these young children are developing is their hearing. Books that have sounds and songs are great! They will oftentimes be more engaged, and they are also learning cause and effect. What happens when I turn the page? Music starts to play! What happens when I push this button? I hear a squeaking noise! Learning to manipulate these elements of books will take practice, let your child explore them freely.
Many children will enjoy being read to, and now is a great time to make story time interactive. Engage your children letting them complete stories, point out illustrations, find things on the pages and answer questions. “Can you find the blue car?” Try to relate elements back to them. “The caterpillar is eating strawberries, just like you eat strawberries!”
Young children will also start to learn how to manipulate books, usually by turning pages back and forth. They are developing their sense of sight and increasing hand eye coordination. They will start to feel a sense of accomplishment, and you will probably notice that they start to gravitate towards books more frequently!
A great way to engage young children with story time is to create your own picture books. When they see familiar places or faces they will give out a contagious excitement. You can relive your enjoyment of reading with your children.
As always, leave out appropriate books that are easily accessible for your child. Enjoy when you can spend quality time reading together. If you find that your child is getting bored, or has a short attention span, that is perfectly ok and completely developmentally appropriate. Don’t force books on them, let it be a choice, and when they loose interest allow them to move on.
These moments you spend with your children will go a long way towards increasing their vocabulary and language. Even if they are too young to be expressing themselves, they are internalizing what you are saying and doing, their brains are developing at a rapid rate, and new vocabulary words are being discovered and internalized. Early Literacy can play a huge role in language development.
As children get older, you can expand their learning by using activities that relate to stories they are reading. Come back later this week for some great book activity ideas!