Here are some guidelines to ensure that you and your toddler get the most out of story time at home. This article was taken from The Parents Answer Book: From Birth Through Age Five, by the editors of Parents magazine. Copyright 2000 by Roundtable Press & G & J USA Publishing.
Choose the Right Time
Traditionally bedtime is story time, but don’t get stuck on this idea if it doesn’t work for you. If you’re harried or tired at your child’s bedtime, you won’t feel like enjoying a good book. Use any time of the day that lets you relax and have fun with reading.
Follow Your Child’s Lead
Let your child choose the book, even if it’s the same one five days in a row. Let him stop you to ask questions or comment. Try not to make story time a battle of wills over what book to read and how long to read it. Let him stop listening when he’s tired. Remember your goal is to have a good time with reading.
Be silly and have fun. Give each character in the story a different voice. Act out their parts with gusto. Have some fun with each book and pass that joy on to your child.
Take time as you read to stop occasionally and engage your child in the story by asking him some questions. You might ask, “Can you find the ball the little boy wants to play with?” “Where is the girl’s brother in this picture?” What kinds of thing do people see when they go to the zoo?” Children develop their imaginations and reasoning abilities by responding to these kinds of questions.
Introduce Reading Everywhere You Go
Books are a great place to encourage a love of reading, but they’re not the only reading material that will fascinate your child. Use magazines for “picture hunts” in which you and your child hunt for pictures of babies or dogs, for example. Give your child your junk mail to open and look through. Point to signs in the store and read them to him. Show him that reading material is everywhere and how it plays an important part in everyday activities.
A couple of added points from Mrs. Snoke:
Have books available throughout your house and car.
Include nonfiction books especially on subjects your child shows an interest in. For example if your child chooses a Clifford book, mix in a book about a real life dog. Explore the nonfiction area of the library and see what books your` child gravitates toward. There are even biographies available for very young children.
Allow your child to “read” to you. They can tell wonderful stories by looking at the pictures and using their imaginations. This is an awesome way to develop a confidence in their ability to read someday. You may even like their version of the book better than the actual story.
Story time is a gift that will propel your child into the joy of reading for a lifetime. So snuggle up and enjoy your time together.