Our 12 Tested Tips For How To Teach Your Toddler To Read!

How to teach a toddler to read

 Is a toddler too young to read? They are Not! We can help you learn how to teach your toddler to read!

That moment when your little buddy reads a sentence in a book all on his own is so rewarding!!! Those moments make our little parent hearts burst with joy while also making all the disobedience, late nights with ear infections and growing pains, and constant messy house worth all the trouble! 

As we have mentioned many times before, reading is a huge part of our home! We start reading to our kids as soon as they come out of the womb! Well, not right out of the womb, but you get the idea. The earlier the better! 

Through our experience, we have learned some tricks and tools to help our toddlers learn to read! Try these tips out and see your little toddler’s love for books soar! 

Our 6-year-old is excelling at reading in the 96th percentile and we attribute that to these tricks and tools! 

Our 12 Tested Tips for Teaching Toddlers to Read

1. Read to them every day 

Mother reading to daughter
Family bedtime. Mom and child daughter are reading a book in tent. Pretty young mother and lovely girl having fun in children room.

Consistency is probably the most important tip! Kids thrive on consistency! We thrive on consistency as adults too! 

We made it part of our bedtime routine to read to our children. With our babies, we would read short bedtime stories with lots of pictures. Now that we have a kindergartener we started reading beginner chapter books like The Magic Tree House. 

We have found that reading frequently helps our kids to stay calm. Peace in the home is a novelty in a home with toddlers!

2. Start early

Baby looking at a book
cute baby girl sitting on floor and reading book

The earlier you start reading to your child the better and the faster your child will develop literacy skills and be able to read on their own! You can even start reading to your baby during pregnancy! Research shows on parents.com that the more words a baby hears the more likely they will be able to start reading on their own.

Another reason for parents to start at such a young age is so that babies will pick up on certain words, tones, inflection, and rhythm as you read.

Our oldest began recognizing patterns and would anticipate the next page of one particular book we would read to him called Kisses. One page talked about fish kisses and when we finished reading the page he would start making fish sounds in anticipation of the next page! 

3. Use Your Baby Can Read

You Baby Can Read Dvds

If you have not heard of Your Baby Can Read we highly recommend looking into it! It is a video-based program that teaches your baby to read. 

We saw our oldest truly excel with his language skills when we faithfully did the Your Baby Can Read program. He was reading more than a dozen words before he was a year old!

Although he couldn’t say the words we knew he was reading flashcards we had made because he would use sign language he learned from “Baby Signing Time” to sign what he would read.

4. Teach them sign language 

Mother teaching daughter sign language
Precious little blonde toddler girl sitting on pretty Caucasian mother’s lap. Mother is smiling and practicing “please” sign language with daughter.

Research has shown that teaching babies sign language enhances their cognitive and emotional development! It also greatly speeds up their language development as they can communicate at a much earlier age.

Have you ever seen that look of pure frustration from your toddler when you can’t understand what it is they want? When your toddler can sign they start communicating more clearly at an earlier age. 

When all of these benefits are taken into consideration, you will find reading will come so much more naturally for your child! 

Again, look into “Baby Signing Time”. This program is fun and engaging for these little minds and teaches simple but many words that babies would use such as “more, please, water, milk, dog, play, outside, cracker, and so on. 

5. Teach the alphabet early

Girl learning the alphabet

The alphabet is the foundation of your child’s reading ability! The sooner they learn the alphabet and letter recognition, the sooner they will learn how to read.

Sing the alphabet song with your baby. Make sure to teach letter sounds along with the letter names.

 It is also important to teach the difference between uppercase letters and lowercase letters at a young age to make early reading easier.

You can get your child toys to help teach the alphabet as well. Get some alphabet blocks and show them the letters while you sing the alphabet song and teach them the sounds. When they can play with the letter in 3-D it will help them learn those letters.

We also use toys like the Little People A-Z learning zoo and our boys have loved it. They get to learn the animals while learning the alphabet simultaneously. Honestly, we think our boys enjoyed learning the alphabet more because the letters were associated with something they loved playing with…animals.

Get creative and make learning fun by providing things your kids love to teach them the alphabet.

Another great way to teach the alphabet to your young child is to use flash cards.

Since children have such short attention spans, we have found the best time to practice these would be during mealtimes. During dinner, we would sit at the table and use flashcards in between bites of food. This worked the best since our child was seated in a highchair and would be more likely to pay attention.

Again, be creative and turn it into a fun game!

Once they know the letter sounds they can begin sounding out words! The more and more you read with your kids the more they will start recognizing familiar sounds and words on their own.

Something magical happens when your child’s confidence soars as they start reading words for the first time! It is so rewarding to see the pure joy on their face as they proudly read on their own! 

6. Do co-reading

Co-reading books

We love doing co-reading with our boys. This is where you read aloud portions of a book and then have your child read aloud portions. This can be a great way for kids to practice sight words

There are some books, such as Usborne’s My First Reading Library, that have designated sections for you to read and easier sections with short words for your child to read. This allows them to feel like they are reading on their own while still having Mom and Dad’s help! 

We especially love the My First Reading Library series because it also includes reading comprehension activities and questions at the end of each book to accelerate your child’s reading skills! 

7. Keep a constant flow of new books in the home

Book collection

Books, books, and more books! The key to teaching your toddler to read is books! Seriously though, we have found our kids start to lose interest in the old family favorite books. When we keep a constant flow of new books in the house it helps to keep their interest and they have a constant drive to read because there are new stories and new information to learn! 

We almost always get our kids a new book or two for every major holiday. We have so many books we could probably open our own mini children’s library! Check out our article Best Books for Toddlers to see a list of some of our favorites! 

One of our favorite places to buy new books is from a company called Paper Pie (formerly known as Usborne Books and More). They have a huge selection of unique stories and fun interactive books for all ages! 

Another way to keep a constant flow of new books coming into your home without needing to purchase them would be to visit your public library often and get a library card that allows you to check out multiple books at once. Most public libraries also provide some kind of reading time to young children.

Our boys always love when we take them to the library and they can each pick out books to borrow!

8. Do interactive reading

Move book

The book Move by Lolly Hopwood and YoYo Krusters is one of the most fun interactive board books we have ever read to our boys!

This book has the children using the book as a steering wheel, jumping over the book like it was a river full of snakes, and using it as a turtle shell!  When kids can interact with reading in this way it will increase their desire to read because it becomes so fun!!!! 

There are so many other fun ways to have your kids interact with their reading. Kids audio players like Storypod have audiobooks that will ask kids questions throughout the stories for them to practice their comprehension! 

We have found so many other interactive books from Paper Pie. There are pop-up books, flap books, books with music, and even books that have a song that goes along with the words like 123 Do the Dinosaur! 

9. Have them follow along with audiobooks

Storypod collection

As we already mentioned, audiobooks can be a great way for kids to interact with books and develop a love for reading! Audiobooks also allow mom and dad to have a break from reading!

Our oldest seems to always need to be entertained!!! It can be exhausting, so it is a big win having an activity that helps teach reading skills, allows kids to stimulate their minds, and avoids screen time, all while giving mom and dad a parenting break! 

We have found some amazing kids’ audio players that have stories, songs, trivia, and more to help your kids learn to read and develop their language skills.

We have a Storypod and a Toniebox that our boys LOVE, but we have also researched and heard SO much good about Yoto as well!

It is just a matter of time before we invest in a Yoto because they each have their own amazing content and benefits, and our Storypod has been a major hit amongst all our boys. 

10. Use progressive reading book series 

My First Reading Library Set

Usborne’s My First Reading Library has 50 books within the set and includes different levels of books.

Each level has several books that expose kids to different letter combinations, phonics, punctuation, and other reading skills. Each level builds on the previous one and continues to challenge the child’s reading skills until they start understanding the complexity of the English language and all its rules.

The early levels have a lot of co-reading and slowly progress to more independent reading! 

These books are not just educational but also include fun and entertaining stories. We have seen our oldest excel with this book series! He will sit down and just read book after book and the pride in his eyes is priceless! 

11. Doing screen time? Have them watch shows like these!

Leap Frog DVD collections

We don’t like to put our kids in front of a screen too much. When we do provide screen time we have found some great movies and shows to teach our kids reading skills!

We have found that using multiple ways of exposing our kids to reading and learning the alphabet helps our kids develop reading skills much more quickly! 

All of our boys have loved the Leap Frog movies including Letter Factory and Storybook Factory. Letter Factory is a great show that specifically teaches letter sounds and letter recognition. We have found these kinds of movies help to pique a child’s interest to develop their reading skills.

A couple of our boys’ favorite TV shows that also teach letters and early reading are Super Why and Word World! 

We have noticed our boys’ reading skills and comprehension increase when they watch these movies and shows. 

12. Word games

Father playing word games with his daughter
portrait of father teaching toddler how to read by using simple word and letter on a flash card at home

Something fun that we do with our boys is play with words. We say a word and then have them say a rhyming word. We will also give a letter and ask our boys to name an animal that starts with that letter. Another game we do is give a word and ask what letter the word starts with.  

Games like these are great for in the car, at the dinner table, or just during playtime! Constantly exposing your toddler to words in different ways enhances their ability to learn to read!  

Word games can be a great way to practice sight words.

Our top resources for how to teach toddlers to read!

  1. Your Baby Can Read Program
  2. Baby Signing Time Movies
  3. Leapfrog Fridge Phonics Magnets
  4. Little People A-Z learning Zoo
  5. Storypod or other kids’ audio players
  6. Leap Frog Letter Factory 
  7. LeapFrog Storybook Factory
  8. Super Why 
  9. Progressive reading book series
  10. Paper Pie books

Conclusion

Reading unlocks the door to a world of possibilities, imagination, creativity, and learning!

We have researched a ton to try and learn how we can teach our kids to read as early as possible. It has always been our dream to have a small library or reading nook in our home that is a cherished place where learning and inspiration happen for our entire family! 

We constantly strive to foster a love for reading in our kids! 

These tips we have shared are proven ways to help teach your toddler to read! Our oldest has proven to us that these tips work! It is so much fun to watch him read and learn! He gets so excited! 

It has been so much fun to watch our middle child begin learning to read as well! He just wants to follow in his brother’s footsteps! 

Our one-and-a-half-year-old loves to grab books and come climb up on our laps! 

It will be a blast for you to teach your toddler to read! We know with some hard work, consistency, and application of these tips your child’s life will be transformed through reading!

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