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Monday, August 7, 2023

How to help your toddler love reading!

How to help your toddler love reading books

How do you get a toddler to love books? Or enjoy looking at them? How do you introduce toddlers to books? Or sit still for longer than 3 seconds? Let's share some easy ways to help your toddler fall in love with reading.

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links

It's no secret that I am a bookworm. Before having Jensen, I'd read over 100 books each and every year without fail (let's not talk about how many i've had time to read post-Jensen) and it seems that perhaps that bookworm trait is genetic because I know have a little bookworm of my own. 

However, every time I post a photo or video of Jensen reading books on Instagram, I get a bunch of messages from other toddler Mums asking how I've gotten him to read/like/be interested in books.... and to be honest, it hasn't ever really been a conscious thing I've taught him, but there are quite a few things we do that have helped that.

So let's chat all things toddlers and books >> 

Great books to introduce to babies
Book: Richard Scarry's Nursery Tales (from my own childhood bookshelf!)

Introduce books early
I've been reading to Jensen since we brought him home from the hospital. I don't think he could remember a day of his life without books because they've always been there. We read them before bed and naps and read many books throughout the day. 

I used books to encourage tummy time and pivoting before crawling and then eventually for crawling and walking. 

How to create a book circle to encourage crawling and movement in babies
Board books are perfect for making book circles

When he was really little, I'd set up books around him to look at during tummy time (try books like these high contrast ones or these ones available to ship to Australia). 

Once he was closer to crawling, I'd set him in the middle of a book circle and he's pivot and move around the circle to look at each of the books.

When he was pulling himself up to standing and moving across furniture/beginning to take steps, I'd place books on top of our cabinets that he'd move to look at. 

Some of our favourite early books are: 
That said, if you haven't introduced books early - it's never too late to start!

Use books in the bath 
Stop panicking, I mean bath books 😝 There are so many great bath books available (AU shopping options here) and they've always been a winner in our house and we still use them even now that Jensen is older. These bath books are also pretty indestructible so are great for using out and about/in the stroller etc. 

Keep books in reach
We have books all over our house. Does the mess annoy me? Often times, yes. Does it encourage Jensen to spend quiet time "reading"? Absolutely! 

Jensen's favourite spot in our whole house is our little reading corner. It's by the window in our dining room and he has his little couch or windowsill to sit on and a little bookshelf with books to read. 

Does he pull every book off the shelf most days as he looks through them? Yes, but they're not hard to put back. 

Trust them with books
Would you want to read or look at a book if someone warned you to "be careful!" every 30 seconds? Probably not... 

It can be hard to do, but I think trusting toddlers with books is one of the first steps to them loving books. Whilst Jensen has a lot of board books on his bookshelf, he also has a lot of books with regular pages, lift the flap books, pop up books and books that would be easy to destroy.... but we've trusted him with them from when he was quite young. 

Have I had to repair a few pages? Yes, but by stopping myself from freaking out over torn pages I've actually allowed him to learn how to respect and be careful with books. He knows the difference between a board book and regular book and carefully turns the page and 99.9% of the time, he'll sit there quietly looking through the books and not tear the page. 

As someone who is ridiculously neurotic with books and hates dog eared pages and tears and folds, this has been the hardest to let go of but TRUST ME! 

Play with books
Toddlers do not have long attention spans. One of the only things that will hold Jensen's attention for longer than 5-10 mins is generally sitting and looking at books - or playing with them. 

We use books in play all of the time - but one of our favourite ways is creating activities to match the books he's loving at the moment. 

This week both us and our neighbours have had builders /tradespeople at our houses so Jensen has been into anything construction related, including books. One of the current favourites is The Little Yellow Digger (AU link) so we made a sensory table activity to match.

I just added toy diggers and trucks (AU link) to the sensory bin with dried chickpeas/garbanzo beans, popsicle sticks, cotton balls, pipe cleaners, little people figures and homemade GF play doh (you could use store bought playdoh) and we read through the book and played with the toys..... except you'll quickly find that your toddler is way more aware of the details of the book than you because Jensen quickly picked up that we were missing the dogs so I had to go and find some dogs to add to the bins. 

Other sensory bins we've done to match books is creating an "ocean" with water and gelatin and little sea creature figures set inside (you could use jelly/jello too) to match Rainbow Fish or ocean related books, making a dinosaur island and counting along to Ten Little Dinosaurs (AU link) and so much more. 

Think outside the box 
It doesn't just have to be a board book or a regular book - think outside the square and try to engage them with books that combine an activity and a book.

Jensen absolutely loves magnet books and they're perfect for using at home or when travelling (they're especially great at restaurants) and I know as he gets older, he'll continue to love them because he can use them as intended to create scenes to match the books (for now he just likes to tell everyone within a 10m radius what each magnet is). 

Here are our favourite activity books/engaging book alternatives: 
Another great idea is to pick up a few of the sound books (AU options here) - especially when they're younger as the sounds and buttons will grab their attention. 

Use their favourite characters 
Jensen loves Mickey, so there's no wondering why all of the Mickey books are his favourites. Some of his favourite books are from this Disney Baby Book Set (AU link - we have the non-board book version linked here) because he recognises the characters and can tell you who they are/what they're doing. 

He also naturally gravitates towards books with things he's interested in - for example all of the digger/construction books while there are builders around, or Mickey and friends or animals when he was beginning to learn animal sounds. 

Read with them! 
The best way to encourage reading is to read with your child. We spend so much time reading together (I definitely exceed 100 children's books a year 😜) and I think that's part of why Jensen loves reading so much. 

Also, don't be afraid to read "non-kids" books to your child. Because we have bookshelves full of novels upstairs, Jensen was always asking me to read him my novels instead of picture books and then one day I decided to start reading actual books to him for naptime and he loves it. Of course I skip the saucy romance novels or murder mysteries, but some of our favourite young adult/all ages novels have been things like: 
But tell me? 
What are some of your little one's favourite books? 
Also, let me know if you'd be interested in a kid's version of What Book Should I Read Next/10 Books I'm Lending to Friends/other books features? 

I have been super slack on sharing posts recently, but I know there are lots of you still reading and I'm working on coming up with some new posts for you!


This post may contain affiliate links. 
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


  1. I am SO late to comment :P but I'm always interested in more reading content! Some of our kids' favorites are: anything by Richard Scarry, the Daniel Tiger 5-minute storybooks, Pete the Cat, and Max & Ruby books. Ethan also loves when I read Little House in The Big Woods aloud to him, although the youngers aren't old enough to be interested!

    1. Richard Scarry is always a fave! It's been fun reading my childhood Richard Scarry books to Jensen!


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