Reading with our little ones - Guest Blog By Maria Torres

One of my favourite moments in the day that I always look forward to is bedtime reading with my toddler. We have been doing it as part of our night time routine for a very long time now and no matter how tired I am, I am always willing to read one more book. And trust me, he will ask for more, every single night.

Our children are growing up knowing how to use technology before they are even able to communicate their feelings so I always encourage people to introduce reading early on and make it part of their routine. No matter how young they are, you baby is listening so you can pick up a board book and get them to touch and feel the pages to start with. Some really good series for very young readers are “That’s not my…”, “Never touch a dinosaur!” or “Bizzy Bear”.

As a language teacher I believe reading to toddlers not only increases their vocabulary but also their ability to comprehend new cultural or abstract concepts which they might struggle to understand otherwise such as envy, friendship or Christmas. As a mum, I would say that the bond you create with your child while sharing this time together is unique, and it’s a real privilege to see their imagination flying free across the room while we chase some dragons, pirates or mermaids away.

Tips for a more effective reading to toddlers

Set up the scene. Create a cosy atmosphere using fairy lights or a torch.

Intonation is key. Even the most thrilling adventure would be boring if read using a plane, flat intonation. Remember that as a reader your voice is a weapon and you can shout, whisper or even sing

Act it out. Make it fun using different voices, sounds, hand gestures. A brilliant series to get started on this is “There’s a Monster in your book” by Tom Fletcher. They are very interactive and you are asked to shake, wiggle or tickle the monster. We have most of these and they are a lot of fun to read.

Simplify. You don’t have to read whatever is written in the book as such. Sometimes you’ll have to use different words, shorter sentences or just describe the images depending on the child’s age. I also tend to change the language and read them in Spanish even though most of them are written in English.

Ask questions. Such a simple yet effective tool to keep their attention on the story.

Repetition. They might struggle with some new words so get them to repeat them with you and if there’s a drawing that can be used to explain it you can point at it so that they can associate the meaning.