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Toddler Talk: 5 Ways to Turn Reading Into Play

Reading is essential. We all know that. But, for whatever reason, lots of kids don't prefer reading to going to the playground or watching a movie. Because of this, reading often gets pushed to the back burner, becoming something that is perceived as boring or monotonous. From a young age, children begin to dislike it.

As a former high school English teacher, I know just how true and how sad this is. One key (and obvious) part of becoming a successful reader is to read often. That is, to spend some amount of time every single day, reading.

Thankfully, both of my toddlers love to read. Sure, they love coloring and watching movies and going outside, but they also love to read. So that reading doesn't become a boring thing in our household, we have figured out some creative ways to turn reading into something more than just sitting and, well, reading.

1. Add Voices

Seriously, nothing is more boring than a book that is read with the same voice all the way through. To get your kiddos giggling, add a funny or silly or crazy voice for the different characters. Use accents. Talk in high and low voices, fast and slow voices. The more variety you use while reading, the more interesting the book will be.

2. Turn It Into a Song

Lots of my daughters' favorite books have rhyming verses or repetition, making it pretty easy to turn it into a song. Whether you sing to the tune of a classic lullaby or make up your own melody, singing is a great way to engage little ones while reading.

3. Act It Out

This one is a real treat. Whether you simply stand up and act out what's going on in the book or go all out with costumes and props, this one is sure to get your toddler excited about reading. Even more, you're unknowingly teaching them about context, setting, character development and more!

4. Do It Somewhere Awesome

Environment is everything. Instead of just sitting in a chair or on the couch, create a reading nook that your little one loves. Blankets, floor pillows, an easy-to-reach basket of books and some mood lighting can make all the difference.

5. Talk About It Later

This is an activity that is amazing for memory and critical thinking. Say you spent your evening reading a book (over and over) about a dragon. The next morning while you're on your way into town, talk about it in the car. Ask your toddler to recall the details. What color was the dragon? Was it a nice dragon or a mean one? Did he run into a problem? What was it? How did he solve his problem? Who helped him? Talking about reading is just as important as the real thing.

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