Kids have rich imaginations and boundless curiosity, which allow them to see life and everything around them in kaleidoscope colors. Everything seems brighter, more colorful, and more interesting in their eyes.
As parents, we’d love to perpetually keep them as creative and curious as they are now. Both qualities are valuable in that they help little people to understand the world around them and find great delight in it. Reading is one of the best things you can do with your child to enrich their imagination and encourage curiosity.
Admittedly, reading is also great for putting your toddler to sleep. But, you don’t need to rush to get them to love reading. Just take baby steps. And the first step is to make reading time fun and enjoyable for your toddler.
How do you that? We asked different parent and lifestyle bloggers to reveal their secrets on how to add fun to reading time with their kids.
Kim, Love, Mrs. Mommy
Kim is a proud mommy of a daughter and upcoming double-rainbow baby. She runs a blog, where she talks about parenting, food, and travel; organizes giveaways; write reviews; and shares her DIY projects.
I love making reading time fun for my little girl by making it a special time for the two of us. I let her pick out a number of her favorite books, and we cuddle up on the couch and snuggle in, now that the colder weather is upon us. In the summer, we would get a picnic blanket and have a “book party” outside on the grass while enjoying the warm summer air. My daughter loves to pick out the order in which I read the stories, and we practice sight words, as she tries reading along with me. Sometimes my daughter brings her stuffed animals or dolls to our book party, and we read to them as well. She enjoys helping them learn, and in return, she is teaching herself how to read. A definite win-win and a fun bonding time for both of us!
Diana Sweeney, Forever My Little Moon
Diana Sweeney started her blog, Forever My Little Moon, to document her journey to motherhood, from trying to conceive and being pregnant, to raising her baby. She also blogs about her travels, DIY projects, pets, and other interests.
We make reading time fun by choosing interactive books for our daughter. She loves touchy-feely books and books with flaps. She loves to lift the flaps herself to see what is on the other side. For other books, we often point at the pictures on the page and ask her if she knows what it is, or tell her if it’s something new. This makes the book more interactive and helps her learn new words!
Alan Lawrence, That Dad Blog
Alan Lawrence is a proud dad of six kids—“one blessed with the ability of flight.” In the day, he is an art director and web designer, but he’s also photographer and amateur videographer. Allan often writes about the joys and challenges of parenting and shares his creative projects in his blog.
I like to make reading time fun by embellishing on the story a little. It gets my kids laughing, and they have fun catching me when I’ve strayed from the original story.
Jennifer Spellman, Jennifer Tonetti Spellman
Jennifer Tonetti Spellman is a New York–based children’s photographer, blogger, and mommy of two girls. She’s a contributor at Womeninstreet.com and teaches photography courses at Illuminate Classes, “a photography education community focused on bringing meaningful insight to your art and your business.”
It’s all about animated voices. I may not be great at it, but I sure do try and channel my inner acting skills, and Josephine gets a kick out of hearing Mommy’s voice change!
Kali Ramey Martin, Bird Is the Word
Kali Rami Martin does photographs for families and publications and writes a monthly column in their local newspaper. In her blog, she shares about her experiences of raising her children, living on a farm, comfort-food recipes, and her photography.
My son Emmett has always loved to read books. We read to him while he was still in my belly, every night. I’ve always read to him before every nap and bedtime. So, when it came time to have a more formal “reading time,” he was already primed to see reading as a fun and special treat. We now do “Morning Time” on weekdays, where we read a few poems, short stories, and a passage from the Bible while we eat breakfast. It’s only five minutes, he is 2.5 after all, but it really starts our day off on a good note. Often times he’s already in the reading mode and requests more books afterward. Since his little brother came along a few months ago, we’ve been using morning nap time to read together. I always try to make sure and snuggle up with him on my lap, with a cozy blanket, and let him pick the books, but it’s become a really special time for just the two of us. So looking forward to all the reading adventures we’ll share as he grows!
Lauren Hartmann, The Little Things We Do
Lauren Hartmann balances her career as a writer at Babble and Disney Baby, a freelance stylist, and her role as a proud mama of two. She says she used to be a baby hater, but having her baby changed her views. Now Lauren talks about her raising her kids, life as a work-at-home mom, and everything in between.
Making reading fun with a toddler all starts with choosing the right books. I take my kids to the library weekly and let them load up a basket full of fun and engaging books that they will be excited about reading. We also make reading a cozy experience complete with blankets and sometimes even tea or cocoa.
Merrilee Lilliard, Mer Mag
Merrilee Lilliard has a passion for creating and all things kids and playful. Her blog is home to all her creative projects, from DIY crafts to illustrations, but she also talks about her life as a mom, the books she’s read, and all the fun and new things in between.
We have special trips to the library. She [her daughter] picks a stack, and I pick a stack. And then we read one from each of our picks each night.
Miriam Cohen, The Very Best Baby Stuff
In 2015, Miriam Cohen started The Very Best Baby Stuff, which used to be just a Google Docs file of all the research and know-how she’s collected when she was pregnant and which she shared with her pregnant friends. The compilation grew to a blog where she now helps new parents prepare for their new role.
To make reading with my toddler extra fun, I capitalize on his current interests. So when he was obsessed with fire trucks, we made multiple trips to the library and bookstore to pick up books on the topic (browsing the selection was half the fun)! We even brought them to our local fire station to show our firemen. I also find that he gets extra excited over books that he can “read” on his own such as Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton, or books of nursery rhymes. “Reading” to his baby sister is one of his favorite activities!
Jennifer Gulley, Jennifer Gulley Photography
Photographer Jennifer Gulley is raising two fun-loving boys and a big labrador. She takes photographs of couples and families, and she has a passion for creating a visual history for her clients and her family. Jen blogs about her personal lifestyle, photography, and family.
We have packed schedules—between living in the Washington DC area and juggling multiple priorities; our bedtime routine together is really precious. One on one with our boys is our time to reconnect for the day before heading to bed (I have two boys, so they love the one-on-one attention at bedtime). Both boys really look forward to picking out their book(s) for bedtime and coming over and snuggling before bedtime. When reading the books, I always practice patience and always “get into character”—the kids LOVE it. I love to sit back and let them examine the scene and spend as much time on a page as they want. I want their imagination to be explored, and I don’t want to cut them off from that. They know our reading time isn’t just speeding through the book to get them to bed—it’s where we can be a bit creative with storytelling!
Kara Carrero, Extremely Good Parenting
With five kids of her own, Kara Carrero has a lot of parenting tips to share in her blog. She also shares about having postpartum depression and starting Extremely Good Parenting to cope with all the challenges she has gone through as a parent.
Reading isn’t just about the time spent in the text; it’s about applying it. So we make reading time fun by playing board games, learning more beyond what we read, and watching the corresponding movie when we’re done with the book. It brings the book to life.
Nicole Schwarz, Imperfect Families
Parent, coach and blogger, Nicole Schwarz is a mom of three girls. She’s also a licensed marriage and family therapist, but she closed her practice in 2014 to focus on parent-coaching online. Now she also writes about her experiences of being a parent and shares professional insights and tips on parenting and children.
Don’t expect your toddler to sit quietly and listen to a book. Let them stand up, clap, run around, and even play while you read. Encourage them to point to things on the page or make sound effects for the pictures. Create a casual atmosphere around reading, rather than turning it into a power struggle.
Betsy Marr, Reign Magazine
Betsy Marr is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Reign Magazine. She is the magazine team’s front liner when it comes to beauty and fashion. Betsy also writes lifestyle tips on her magazine and helps rising brands and niche designers find their place in the industry.
Keep it light and playful. Animated voices, silly noises, and anything else you can do to keep the activity fun as opposed to forced are key. And letting your child pick which story you’ll be reading is half the fun too!
Becky Goddard-Hill, Baby Budgeting
Becky Goddard-Hill is all about budgeting. Her blog contains a wealth of creative saving tips and hacks for raising a family on a budget. Becky also writes about parenting advice, shares her crafts and DIY projects, and organizes competitions.
The best way to make reading time with toddlers fun is to make it animated and put some energy into it. So doing the silly voices and adding some actions will keep both them and us interested.
Jocelyn Reading, The Reading Residence
Jocelyn Reading is a mom to two children, a daughter and a son. She runs her own blog, The Reading Residence, where she shares bits and pieces about her family, tips and hacks for saving time and money, and everything about building the perfect home and parenting.
I no longer have a toddler, but can comment on our previous experiences. We like to make reading time cozy, cuddling up as we read our books. Our child is always choosing the books that we’ll read, and we like to make sure that the characters each have their own voices throughout. We chat about the book as we go along and afterward, bringing it to life. Our kids also have lots and lots of books to choose from, and a trip to the library or the bookshop is always viewed as a treat.
Kas Dee, Ickle Pickle’s Life and Travels
Kas Dee started blogging in 2014 to share about the world as seen through her 15-month-old baby boy Pickle’s eyes. Now the blog, Ickle Pickle’s Life and Travels, is filled with Pickle’s adventures, travels, experiences, and discoveries, with a little corner for his mommy, Kas.
I would say that the key is to make reading fun, and rather than sit down and try and “read” a book, make a game of it. Point out words on signs, toy boxes, etc., as well as books and do not get stressed if they are not interested. Try again later or another day.
Marcy Loveless, Uplifting Mayhem
Marcy Loveless has a passion for uplifting lives for the better. She’s a proud mother of five handsome boys (or six, if you count her husband). Her blog, Uplifting Mayhem, is filled with Marcy’s stories, tips, and solutions on parenting and marriage. She also shares personal recipes, her travel stories, and podcasts on ways you can uplift your life.
Here are a couple of my thoughts on making reading to your toddler fun.
- First is to not leave reading time to just before bedtime. My suggestion is to spread it out during the day or spend 20 minutes reading to your toddler in the morning. This is the time as a mom when you are at your best, and your toddler is alert and happy. Bedtime can get a little hairy at times, which results in a not so pleasant experience for both mom and toddler.
- Second, don’t just read the words to your child, interact with them, and have them point out different objects or colors on each page before you turn it. These little things when done every day will start to stick, and they will start emulating your actions when you read that book again.
- The third is, not all books are created equal! Find books that are fun and interesting with beautiful pictures. I have heard of lots of moms who dislike reading to their toddlers because of certain books that take too long or drive them crazy. I totally agree! Your toddler isn’t going to love you reading to them if your voice is monotone and you are just hurrying through it. Find books that you enjoy! Also through beautiful pictures, they experience beautiful art! You don’t need to take your kids to an art museum . . . all you need is a beautiful book.
These are just a few of my thoughts. Upon writing this, I think parents will benefit from a list of books that both kids and moms will both enjoy.”
Maggie Marton, Oh My Dog Blog
Maggie Marton is the author of Zero-Waste Pet, Authentic Blogging, and Clicker Dog Training. She’s a proud mama of a baby girl, a pit bull mix, a little black cat, and a tortie kitten. Maggie is a staunch advocate for pet lifestyle, pit bulls, the environment, and cancer awareness.
We’re a family of readers, and I think Violet sees us reading and follows suit. She loves to pull all her books off the shelf, pile them around her, and flip through them. The big thing is that we let her! We have three shelves of sturdy board books at her level, and we let her play with them whenever and however she wants! Plus, we read before her nap and before bed, so it’s just a part of her day. She’s 18 months, and she’s very clever, so she’s also realized that before bed she can stall by asking for, “More book.” It gets us every time!
Danielle Isom, Making Time
Danielle Isom is a work-from-home mom with three lovely children. While juggling her work and parenting responsibilities, she’s discovered that she needs to make time to do the things she loves, and that has led to the start of her blog, Making Time.
I like to get silly when reading with my toddler—silly voices, funny sounds, moving around, and then letting her contribute to the story too. I ask her to make funny sounds and if possible, show me what’s going on the story by acting it out herself. It’s hard for toddlers to sit still, so by letting them act out parts of a story and contribute, it’s easier to get through the whole book.
Takiyah Wallace, Brown Girls Do Ballet
Takiyah Wallace started Brown Girls Do Ballet as a photography project to highlight young ballet dancers girls of Hispanic, African, Asian, East Indian, and Native American ancestry. Now, the project has become a philanthropic organization, which has garnered great attention and support in social media, giving Takiyah more opportunities to engage with ballet dancers, their families, and the ballet community.
I have a very active toddler boy at home so making reading interactive works for us. I can make the best sound effects and character voices! I also make it a point to allow him to choose his age-appropriate books. We’re really into superheroes these days.
Darcy Troutman, Darcy Troutman Photography
Wedding and family photographer Darcy Troutman is the mother of three fun-loving kids and two energetic dogs. She runs a professional (with a side of personal) blog, where she shares her amazing photographs and talks about raising her children, family life, and all her favorite things.
When my kids were younger, we used to read the same books over and over to them. They’d love it when they could fill in sentences, especially for books with lots of crazy sounds—truck books and Dr. Seuss worked especially well. Throughout the day, we’d say the words and sounds over and over again. So that when we pulled out the books to read, the kids acted as if they were reuniting with an old friend.
Lauren Koster, Lauren Koster Creative
A designer by heart, Lauren Koster started blogging to share her creative works—her musings, fashion endeavors, DIY projects, and interior design. She got into event planning when she planned her wedding with her college best friends, and now, she runs an event business.
My little guy loves to pretend he’s at the library. He goes and picks a few books off the shelves and pretends like it’s brand new, and he’s never seen it before. The simple act of pretending like he is somewhere else and not going to bed at night changes the game. Also, we have a behavior chart, after he earns 10 stars he gets a special treat or prize. I try to encourage the prize not to be a toy every time. Sometimes it’s going to a special place, and sometimes we go to the bookstore and pick out a brand new book to add to the collection.
Melissa Aguirre, MelMarie Yoga
Melissa Aguirre is the founder of MSIT (Mindful Somatic Integrative Therapy) and a San Antonio–based YACEP yoga therapist, holistic life coach, and stress management specialist. She is passionate about helping people create a life that they do not need to escape from.
We are lucky because our toddler LOVES to read. We have books all over the house for her to explore and share with us. She loves to read to us, and usually when I read to her, it is not always verbatim what the book says but interactive oriented around her experience with the pictures. We invite each time we read to be a new, creative adventure.
“A book is a gift you can open again and again,” said Garrison Keillor. And a love for reading is one of the best gifts a parent can give their child. Children who grow up as avid readers are blessed to see and understand life and world through the different lenses. They develop boundless creativity, imagination, and curiosity and live rich inner lives through adulthood.
Teaching kids to love reading begins with making the activity as fun and enjoyable for them as it is for you. Children will carry the good memories and happiness reading brought to them through their adulthood, and those can be enough to sustain their love for reading for a lifetime.