Selecting Books for Toddlers: 18 Months to 4 Years
Children this age like stories! Their attention spans are still short, so choose stories that are fairly simple. Because children this age do not have good memories, they like to have the same rhyme or poem repeated over and over. Stories that have the same word or phrase repeated throughout delight this age group. Soon you will be able to see their faces light up with joy and anticipation. Repetition will help develop memory and language skills.
Toddlers are learning about feelings. They are learning when it is all right to show how they feel. For example, they are learning that it is natural to feel angry sometimes, but that it is not all right to hit or punch others because they are mad. Since toddlers are becoming aware of feelings, they like to hear stories about them. They also are forming self-concepts and like to hear stories about toddlers who feel just like they do. Books that teach about body parts, or people who are like those they know (like mothers, fathers, store-keepers, and pets) will help them learn about themselves and their worlds.
Because their small muscles, like those in their hands, are now more developed, toddlers can turn the thin pages of regular picture books. They should be allowed to do this because it makes them feel in control. At this age, they are able to see more things in the pictures. This is the time to let children look at the pictures for a longer time and talk to you about what they see. Children this age "read" the pictures. The best books for this age are well-designed and have clear, uncluttered pages with lots of color to spur their imaginations.
The older children in this age group are beginning to know the difference between real and pretend, and think stories about dressed up and talking animals are great. After such a story, you may want to ask, "Was that real or pretend?" You need not make a big deal about the difference between the two.
Toddlers always are active and are coordinated enough to enjoy pop-up books and other books they can take part in. They are still learning about ideas like up/down and in/out, so those books are appropriate now. Two-year-olds are ready to hear books about colors and shapes, and 3-year-olds are ready to hear about numbers and letters.
Copyright 2007 by Idaho Department of Health and Welfare
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