By Jill Donaldson, M.A
Reading books to infants and toddlers is an activity that every family should make part of their daily routine. It can be a challenging activity for some toddlers as they may not want to sit still, insist on turning the pages themselves, or perhaps even deciding to close the book all together after only the second page. If you're parenting a child with a developmental disability, you may face additional challenges when it comes to story time.
Why Read to Infants and Toddlers?
There are a variety of books available to infants and toddlers that appeal to all the senses. Books help them recognize animals and learn to associate animal sounds with pictures. They learn to notice colors, to learn color names, and to count simple objects on a page. Most of all, books teach the sounds and rhythms and words of language. Children learn to hear words that sound the same in short little rhyming books. They learn about touch as the explore touch and feel books. They learn to associate pictures with real objects around them.
Beyond the Classics
While the classics are great, there are numerous books on the market now which really speak to children with developmental delays. Consider these suggestions during your next trip to the book store:
- Select books with a few words on each page and bright, colorful pictures.
- If your child doesn't have the patience right now for you to read each page, focus on the pictures. Point out objects displayed on the pages.
- Look for "touch and feel" books as well as "life-the-flap" books to help engage your child's sense of touch.
- Avoid books that make sounds and "talk" to your child. These are distractions and don't help a child learn to listen to the sound of the words and your voice.
Another helpful hint, if your child is struggling to turn the pages of a board book, consider adding a self-adhering foam piece. It creates enough space between the pages for your child to be able to turn the page on his own.
Milestones in Early Reading
Between 18-24 months, most children should be able to recognize and to point to pictures in a book. If you are concerned your child is not meeting his/her developmental milestones, call and ask questions. If your child is an infant or toddler under the age of three years you can call to speak to someone at the Parent Education - Infant Development Program by calling 540-372-3561.
To learn more about the Parent Education-Infant Development Program, call 540-372-3561 or visit www.racab.state.va.us.
Jill Donaldson, M.A., CCC-Speech-Language Pathologist, has served as the Coordinator for the Parent Education - Infant Development Program at the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board for the past 13 years. Ms. Donaldson was awarded the Leadership Award by the Infant Toddler Connection of Virginia in 2007.