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Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers

Early Literacy for Toddlers

Toddlers are excited to use their newly acquired mobility to explore their environment. This is often a very busy stage filled with activity and discovery. Children will begin to be able to name body parts, animals and common items in books as well as start to offer simple sentences such as “Me juice!”

Many toddlers are not ready to sit still to explore an entire book, and often reading will happen in small spurts between other activities. Below are some ideas to include early literacy throughout your toddler's day by talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing.

Talk, Sing, Read, Write, Play Everyday!

TALKING with Toddlers

Give your toddler plenty of opportunities to speak and listen throughout your day. Toddlers may need more time to respond to questions, so be sure to give them plenty of time to do so!

  • Talk about everything! From the food on their plate at meal times to where you are going or what you see while driving in the car​
  • Look at photos and recount stories about family members 
  • Point to and name items around the house or while out running errands

SINGING with Toddlers

At this stage children begin to be able to play with language. Important listening and speaking skills are being developed while participating in rhymes and singing songs.

You don't have to be musical to sing with your child! Here are some suggestions for incorporating singing throughout your day:

  • Sing while driving in the car, during bath time or waiting in line while running errands
  • Make up songs or simple rhymes about everyday activities
  • Move! Teach your toddler simple fingerplays or add actions to songs and rhymes

READING with Toddlers

Plant the seeds for a lifelong love of reading! Ensure reading is an enjoyable experience by finding a time and duration that works best for you and your child:

  • Make books available. Have a few titles in the toy box, the car and your busy bag for reading on the go! 
  • Visit the Library! Allow your child to choose books they are interested in
  • Read more than books! Draw your toddler's attention to print in their environment, such as signs, labels and your shopping list 

For more information on sharing books with your toddler and suggested titles click here

WRITING with Toddlers

Exploring with writing helps children start to understand the purpose and meaning of print. Hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills required to write words are being developed as scribbles and marks grace the page.

  • Provide a variety of drawing tools for your child to explore, such as crayons, pencils, paint and markers
  • Write wherever you are: in the air, in the water, in the sand and in the snow
  • Include children in your writing activities, such as making lists, writing letters and signing cards

PLAYING with Toddlers

Many language and literacy skills are learned through play. Children learn to think symbolically and start to understand story structure as they recreate stories or situations inspired by their experiences.

  • Play "I spy" in the car or hunt for familiar objects in your environment
  • Use everyday items in play, there is no need for expensive toys. A shoe box can become a parking garage and a wooden spoon a wand
  • Play with your toddler and follow their lead – offer extensions and challenges as appropriate
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Books to Support Early Literacy

Book Cover - The Seals on the Bus

Click the title above to find it in the catalogue

Singing to Get Every Child Ready to Read

Click here for a list of books that you can sing!

Book Cover: Duck in the Truck

Click the title above to find it in the catalogue

Rhyming to Get Every Child Ready to Read

Click here for a list of books with rhyme and poetry!

Click on the title above to find it in the catalogue

Reading to Get Every Child Ready to Read

Click here for a list of books with rare language!

Book Cover: the Very Hungry Caterpillar

Click the title above to find it in the catalogue

Talking to Get Every Child Ready to Read

Click here for a list of books that invite participation!

Book Cover: A boy, a dog and a frog

Click the title above to find it in the catalogue

Talking to Get Every Child Ready to Read

Click here for a list of wordless books that make you the storyteller!

Click the title above to find it in the catalogue

Writing to Get Every Child Ready to Read

Click here for a list of books for fun with letters!

Click the title above to find it in the catalogue

Playing to Help Every Child Get Ready to Read

Click here for a list of books with movement, props, or puppets!