speech and language through reading

How to Use Books to Promote Language Development in Babies and Toddlers




Books are a fantastic way to stimulate learning and language development with your baby or toddler. Books provide a way to introduce new vocabulary, increase attention spans, inspire their imaginations, and the best part – reading books with your child is a great bonding experience.

Here are some general tips to consider when reading with your baby or toddler:

Match your child’s language level-Simplify or shorten sentences to match what your child can understand and/or produce.

Be animated!

  • Vary your intonation
  • Use facial expressions and gestures
  • Use sound effects (i.e. animal noises, “whee!” “whoosh!”)
  • Stress key words

Show them what you’re talking about by bringing their attention to the page-Point to pictures.

Choose books with fun pictures, animals, numbers, letters, etc.

  • Open flaps, put fingers through holes, press buttons
  • Point to the printed word
  • Demonstrate verbs with actions or gestures

Slow it down.

  • Read at a natural rate
  • Encourage turn-taking – give your child a chance to point, say a word, open the flap, or turn the page

Establish joint attention.

  • Pick books with your child’s interests (i.e. favorite characters, things to do)
  • When your child makes sounds or points, imitate or join in
  • Look at the book and look towards your child when reading to show you’re interested in both the book and them!

Reading is a great time to encourage learning and language development, but also a fantastic time to bond with your child. Remember, make it fun!

Here is a list of books that are some of my personal favorites:

  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear – Eric Carle
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle
  • Go Away, Big Green Monster – Ed Emberley
  • Goodnight Moon – Margaret Wise Brown
  • Hippos Go Berserk! – Sandra Boynton
  • Cars and Trucks and Things That Go – Richard Scarry
  • Peek-a-Who? – Nina Laden
  • My First Word Book – Angel Wilkes
  • Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus – Mo Willems, or any Mo Willems books, they’re very silly!

Click here for a list of toys to develop language skills in babies and toddlers.