Read to me, I love it

mother and son reading a bookReading doesn't take any special skills or fancy equipment. It is free. It can be a whole lot of fun. And every minute that you read to your toddler will have a huge impact.

As your child grows the way that you read together will change. In these early years reading should be something that you do every day, and most of all it should be fun.

Tips for reading to your toddler

Be comfortable.

Dad reading with son and daughter

Just like babies, toddlers love routine. Keep reading books at bedtime and throughout the day - especially when they ask you to.

Read at your own pace. Read slowly enough for your child to understand.

Make mistakes. Nobody is perfect, it can even become a wonderful game - with you deliberately getting things wrong so they can catch you out.

Be silly.

Happy baby with a tambourine

Make lots of noise. Encourage your toddler to join in with sound-effects and repeated phrases in the story.

Wriggling is ok! Little kids are action kids - their bodies might be moving but their ears are still listening.  Your toddlers attention span will grow as they do.

Read more than just books together - read newpapers, catalogues, street signs, packaging. Look for words everywhere in the world.

Be flexible.

Mother and daughter singing

Read books when your child asks you to. (Even if it is the same book for the millionth time that week.) Repetition helps children learn.

It's ok to stop in the middle of a story. Some days, it's just no fun or the book is boring. You don't have to finish the book. Take a break, do something else, try a different book at another time.

Kids learn in different ways - by listening, seeing and doing. Stories can come from all sorts of places - read books, tell your own stories, or ask your child to act out their favourites.

Be curious.

Boy with paper rocket craft

Ask lots of questions. Think of ones that encourage your child to think. Like "what do you think will happen next?" or "what do you think that little boy is feeling?"

Talk about the pictures. You can point to things and name them, or play games looking for objects.  Talk about how the pictures make you feel. You can also talk about how the artist might have made them.

Be supported.

Toddler pointing to a bookChildren can have their own library cards for free! Your local library is a great place to find books, and help with reading and choosing stories. Lots of libraries also have Story Times where you can listen to story tellers.

There are some amazing games and stories online. Busythings and TumbleBooks are perfect for toddlers.

Reading is for all the family - get everyone involved. Anyone can read with your toddler - grandparents, friends, brothers and sisters. Your toddler will even start telling you their own stories.


Related Program: 

I always knew reading to my kids was important, but this has opened my eyes to how important and how much.

I tell stories in Vietnamese and read to my children in English.  I only started reading English after receiving Better Beginnings. 

One mother reads with her four year old every afternoon after school now.  She said without these books, they would not have any to read. 
Teacher, Remote Community School

I always knew reading to my kids was important, but this has opened my eyes to how important and how much.

I think it’s been a wonderful initiative.  I feel sure it’s going to benefit both the children and parents and develop links with the library.


It’s wonderful to have support across the community emphasising the importance of reading and language development. 
Community Health Nurse

…I never thought of reading to my baby.  Better Beginnings has really boosted my confidence.

Better Beginnings gave me confidence. I know reading is an everyday tool and teaching my children will help them be more successful in life.