This was originally posted by the Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub here.

How amazing is it when our little toddlers love to read? They grab books and look up at you with those adorable eyes asking you to read to them. It’s hard for your heart not to melt as those precious little ones climb up on your lap and get excited about their favorite book. My daughter has a couple of favorite books that she likes to read over and over again, and especially likes any book with pictures of actual babies. Her version of “reading” however is a little different than mine. She will turn the pages before I’ve read all the words on that page, and frequently turns back to pages that she really likes. She will often skip to the end and close the book before we’re done and will then quickly pick out another book to read.

Reading with toddlers and wigglers is quite a bit different than reading by ourselves or with older children, but there are a few things I’ve learned after years of experience with two of these wigglers:

-Read at their pace – this is important as a lot of younger kids like books mostly for the pictures and cuddle time rather than the stories themselves. Sometimes I’m able to read multiple pages in a row and other times I can pick out a word or two in the whole book before my daughter closes it. I try to read as much as she’ll let me, but adjust to her pace and preference.

-Be silly – little kids really enjoy laughing and nothing seems to make them more happy than when their parent is being silly. Silly voices, teasing over turning the pages too fast or just losing yourself in the laughter make the reading more fun and ensures that your kids will be coming back for more.

-Respond when they notice things – at this age kids are learning every moment of every day through every simple interaction. When they point to something in the book or repeat what I read I try to make a point of responding or noticing what they noticed. This encourages them to keep engaging in the book, helps them start to relate what’s happening on the pages with their lives, and makes them want to keep reading and looking for things they know or want to learn.

Reading with our little wigglers may mean you don’t always find out what happens to the little blue truck at the end of the story, but you can be assured that when you read how they want to read you are developing a love of books and reading that will stick with them for a lifetime. Plus…you can always go back and read the end of the story after they go to bed!

This is fatherhood…