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When children have positive interactions to books, they develop good feelings about reading (which will hopefully motivate them to seek out more literacy materials as they grow). One of the best ways to introduce toddlers and babies to baby books is to make it fun, but if you’re looking for some other ways to nurture this lifelong love of reading we have some ideas: 

A few minutes at a time is okay – don’t worry if you don’t finish the story!
Keep in mind that young children can only sit for a few minutes but, as they grow, they will be able to sit longer. Let your child decide how much (or how little) time you spend reading. Also, you don’t need to read every page – some children will have a favourite page or picture that they like to linger on. When it comes to babies, they may just prefer to mouth the book rather than listen.

Talk or sing about the pictures
You don’t have to read the words in order to tell the story. Try “reading” the pictures for your child. When your child is old enough, you can ask them to read the pictures to you (you’ll be surprised at what they have remembered and what quirky tidbits they add to the story themselves).

Let your child turn the pages
Although babies won’t be able to turn the pages on their own, an 18 month old will want to give it a go and a 3 year old will most certainly be able to do it on their own. Remember that it’s okay to skip pages – they’re fingers often cannot grasp single pages, particularly if they’re thin.

Show your child the cover page
Take this opportunity to explain to them what the book is about. If you have an older toddler, you could instead ask them to guess what the story is about.

Show your child the words
Try running your finger along the words as you read them, from left to right. This can help them later on in life when it comes time to learn how to read.

Make the story come alive
Why not create voices for the story characters and use your body to tell the story? As our children have a short attention span, this can do wonders for getting them to listen to the whole book.

Make it personal
Talk about your own family, pets or even the community when you’re reading about others in a story. If it’s about a grandmother, for example, talk about your child’s grandmothers and relate them back to the story.

Ask questions about the story, and let your child ask questions too
Use the story to have a back-and-forth conversation with your child. Talk about familiar activities and objects that you see in the illustrations or read about in the book. If they have any questions about what’s going on, be sure to take the time to answer them. Don’t discourage your child from asking questions.

Make books a part of your daily routine
Finally, the more that books are woven into a child’s everyday life, the more likely they will be to see reading as a pleasurable activity. Some ways that you can incorporate them into your daily routine include: at meal times, in the car or on the bus, at child care drop off, at the doctor’s office, at the grocery store, at nap time, at bedtime, at bath time: Bath Books for Toddlers, or even when trying to relax.

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