‘Reading’ with Toddlers

toddlers and role play reading

We are reading…catalogues…junk mail… and magazines!

Immy loves books. She will sit and peruse their pages all by herself. She will accost visitors with her current favourite read and a sweet smile so that they will read to her (not once but at least five times!) She will not miss her books in Mum and Dad’s big bed as part of our morning routine. Books are a major part of our every day life.

Just recently however Immy has added to her reading repertoire, she now also loves to ‘read’ catalogues and magazines. This picture was taken recently when Immy and I were outside enjoying the sunshine – her to have a bit of free play and me to have a quick look at my latest subscription arrival, Mother & Baby magazine. Whilst I sat and started to read, Immy climbed up on the chair next to me and started to read the little Pumpkin Patch clothing catalogue which had been included as an insert in the magazine. She sat for a long time looking at the pictures and turning the pages, lost in concentration.

I point out this as an example of a very young child (15 months) who already knows a lot about reading. As she ‘read,’ she was;

  • Role play reading: Even at this early age, Immy sees herself as a reader. She is demonstrating what she knows that a reader does by holding the book, turning the pages, looking at the content.
  • Taking enjoyment from reading: How do I know this? I assume it from the amount of time that she spent fully engaged with the catalogue. It is important to me that she enjoys reading as I love to read and I hope she grows to love it too.
  • Holding the catalogue the right way up and turning the pages independently and from the front of the catalogue to the back: These are important pre-reading skills and although she is still a little clumsy with turning pages she is very good and patient and we have had very little in the way of accidental tearing or folding of pages. We have worked at reinforcing with Immy the respect of books from a young age – not chewing on them, being gentle, and turning the pages carefully, and she is now a gem at finding her favourite pages.

As well, Immy is learning that these texts also provide useful information (as well as enjoyment) – catalogues, magazines and non-fiction books (she loves my recipe books) provide a wonderful basis for talking to children about finding factual information, such as prices or instructions.

Before children begin to formally learn to read or write they already know an impressive amount about reading and writing. Most of this they learn from the important adults in their lives. What they learn from you provides the context from how easy reading and writing will come to them. You are their most important role model.

Right now she is sitting at my feet, surrounded by books which she has chosen from her shelves. Choosing favourites and thumbing through. She has been doing this for about 15 minutes now. Talking to herself as she goes. I like to believe she is telling herself the story.