Isn’t reading time the best? Cuddling up with your little one and diving into a book is a great way to spend an hour. Throughout months 25-36, reading time is especially fun for parents and caregivers because you get to witness the steady progress of your toddler grasping letters, new words, and storylines. While we patiently wait for them to read independently, the reading milestones achieved during this time can be quite admirable!
It’s always important to remember that young children develop their literary skills at different paces. The reading milestones discussed below are based on averages, so don’t be too worried if your child hasn’t reached some of these targets just yet. Speak to your pediatrician about any concerns you have about your child’s reading development.
Your toddler will start using visual cues to interpret familiar signs, symbols, or logos. Visuals will be a big part of their literary learning at this point. Not only will your toddler identify their favorite movies or food by the pictures and logos, they’ll also be able to describe what’s happening in a book by following the illustrations. What’s more, they’ll demonstrate their understanding of a story by answering questions about the plot as you read together. Since visuals are so important at this time, big picture books, like I’m Sunny, are highly recommended.
If your child has a favorite book, it won’t be a secret! They will ask (or beg) you to read their favorite stories over and over again. You might also notice your little one imitating you as you read, which builds fluency. Since they know these stories by heart, they can tell you the story themselves by using the pictures as a guide. Over time, the words in their favorite books will become more and more familiar, expanding their vocabulary. So don’t hide that beloved book, even though you can’t imagine reading it one more time! Reading it over and over again does have its rewards. We promise!
As your toddler’s vocabulary grows, they’ll be able to describe actions or objects in a book in a more comprehensive way. Not only is their vocabulary expanding, their ability to form complete sentences is developing, too. Since they’re able to say 3-4 word sentences around this time, if there’s a frequently used phrase in a book, they can repeat it for you! Months 31-33 are a great time for classic books like The Cat in the Hat or Goodnight Moon that use repetitive rhymes, words, and phrases to help toddlers pick up on literary patterns.
Don’t be surprised if your toddler starts conducting some reading sessions of their own at this stage! Months 34-36 marks a time of imitation and imagination, so you might notice your child pretending to read a book to an audience of stuffed animals. They’ll use the pictures to tell new stories, repeat favorite stories, or even make up their own special endings to familiar plots. Toddlers are also beginning to recognize the first letter of their names, so little Benjamin might say “my name!” when reading a story about a Brown Bear. Stories that are simple, yet playful and adventurous, are perfect for this stage. Books like Ball use only a few words on each page and tell a fun story that your little one can pretend to read to his friends (imaginary, real, or stuffed).
Even though toddlers are still developing literary skills, you can inspire their love for reading now! Introducing new books that connect to their developmental stage is a great way to build their relationship with literature.