Selecting Books for Toddlers: 18 Months to 4 Years (page 2)
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.
Books for Toddlers
Thinking and information books as well as short stories are good for this age group. Picture books, with one thing on a page (such as a picture of shoes or a key ring) are good. Children can recognize these pictures, name them, and begin to learn about words. Counting, alphabet, and touch-and-see books also are favorites. Toddlers also enjoy books about true things told in story form, or pretend stories like those about talking animals. Mother Goose and Richard Scarry books are favorites now.
How You Can Help
Choose books that are short enough to be read in one sitting, and have happy endings. Since toddlers are unable to understand other people's point of view, you may want to substitute their names for the names of the main characters in the stories or poems. This will make them feel important and good about themselves. Another way to make them feel special is to hold them close during story time.
Toddlerhood is a time for exploring. You can help them do this by choosing books about the experiences that children (or even animals) have in the real world. Toddlers want independence, although, at this stage, they are not always able to handle much freedom. The stories you choose about exploring should be ones that will help them adjust to new and sometimes frightening experiences in their world. Two- and 3-year-olds are talkative and have good imaginations. They will have many things to tell you while you are reading stories together! You can help by being a good listener.
Ask for these and other books at your local library:
- All Fall Down by Helen Oxenbury
- Animals Should Definitely Not Wear
- Clothing by Judi Barrett
- Baby Duck in the Rain by Amy Hest
- Barnyard Banter by Denise Fleming
- The Best Mouse Cookie by Laura Numeroff
- Big Tab Board Books: My Big Alphabet Book a DK Publishing Book
- Bingo by Rosemary Wells
- Blueberries for Sale by Robert McCloskey
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle
- Calling All Toddlers by Francesca Simon
- Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse
- Come Along, Daisy! by Jane Simmons
- Count With Maisy by Lucy Cousins
- Cows in the Kitchen by June Crebbin
- Daddy Makes the Best Spaghetti by Anna Grossnickle Hines
- Daisy's Day Out by Jane Simmons
- Dinosaur's Binkit by Sandra Boynton
- Donde Se Esconde Maisy? by Lucy Cousins
- Freight Train by Donald Crews
- Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathan London
- Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed E. Emberley
- Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
- Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
- Have You Seen My Duckling? by Nancy Tafuri
- How Are You Peeling? by Saxton Freymann
- I'm as Quick as a Cricket by Audrey Wood
- Jamberry by Bruce Degen
- Kipper's Book of Colors by Mick Inkpen
- Lunch by Denise Fleming
- Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
- Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
- Max's Bath by Rosemary Wells
- Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You: Can You? by Dr. Seuss
- Mrs. Wishy-Washy by Joy Cowley
- One Red Sun: A Counting Book by Ezra Jack Keats
- Piggies by Don Wood and Audrey Wood
- Rabbits & Raindrops by Jim Arnosky
- Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy E. Shaw
- Skip to My Lou by Nadine Bernard Westcott
- Snoozers: 7 Short Short Bedtime Stories for Lively Little Kids by Sandra Boynton
- The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
- Spring is Here by Taro Gomi
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
- When Sophie Gets Angry-Really Really
- Angry... by Molly Garrett Bang
- Where's Spot? by Eric Hill
Adapted with permission from the National Network for Child Care. From "Good times with stories and poems," by Patricia A. Johnson, Ed. D. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University Cooperative Extension
Copyright 2007 by Idaho Department of Health and Welfare
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