Most toddlers love books. Some love the pictures, some love being read to, and some love pretending they are reading it for themselves. One of Little Bear’s favourite places in the world is the library (he would choose the library over the playground most days). And boy, oh boy, doesn’t it feel like they NEVER get tired of reading the same book over and over again?
Repeated readings of books during toddlerhood and the preschool years may be frustrating to parents, but is essential for development of a strong vocabulary. Research from the University of Sussex found that toddlers had a better grasp over new words when they were read to from the same 3 books repeatedly. That particular study is particularly important, in my opinion, as all children were introduced to the same novel words, the only variable was whether or not children were read the exact same story multiple times. The children who read the exact same story, learned the new vocabulary, while the children who heard the new words in different stories did not have a grasp on the new vocabulary. While this research is interesting, practicality and sanity begs for a variety of books to be read to our tots. After all, Green Eggs and Ham is long enough and repetitive enough that I don’t want to read it for a FIFTH time!
That being said, while repetition is good, variety is necessary. It is the toddlers who make frequent trips to the library who have greater vocabularies. In fact, an early reading intervention program through the Quebec library system resulted in the babies (under 12 months old) who joined the program having nearly 4 times the vocabulary as their peers at age 3 (616 words vs. 2150 words).
In addition to the more obvious advantages of encouraging early literacy, like teaching letters, numbers, and words/names, books can also teach social skills (in terms of discussions of appropriate behaviour), feelings, world knowledge and understanding of differences. And the best part is the bonus: while you’re reading to your little one, you’re bonding and contributing to their overall well-being with the simple action of reading stories together! Often reading becomes a ritual, perhaps part of a bedtime routine. It is quiet time, together time, learning time, cuddle time and adventure time – all wrapped up together! It is something both of you can count on. Furthermore, for many working parents, having a bedtime reading ritual can be extremely valuable in developing a deeper sense of security and fulfillment for both parent and child.
If your little one is like mine, you already spend hours everyday reading together. One of his favourite things to do during his quiet time is to look through books on his bed. But how can you extend this valuable learning time? How can you increase the learning time (remember, repetition has been proven to be the key to early vocabulary building) without simply reading the same book to your child over and over again? And what if your little one doesn’t want to sit still and read books? The solution: Toddler Book Club!
Starting up for the month of August, I will choose 4 books to feature in our book club for every month. I will provide extension activities, songs, and arts and crafts ideas to reinforce each book we read. I will publish the resources in the final week of the month prior (August resources will be posted in July, September resources in August, and so on). The goal is to reinforce what is learned in terms of potentially novel words or contexts and create a full learning experience out of the book. Many of the books I choose will be books that you may own or can find at a local library or borrow from a friend. Others you may not own…if that is the case, take a look through the activities and the book synopsis that I will provide and decide if it is something that you want to add to your collection. If not, don’t fret. You can always find another book with a similar theme and use the provided activities anyway!
Join in on the action by letting us know how things are going on our Facebook page, Instagram (use the hashtag #hbbtoddlerbookclub and follow me here) or commenting on each month’s post here at http://www.happyblurrybeautiful.com.
HERE is the link for the August book club!