Books to Read to Toddlers

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Interesting books to read to 2.5 yr old

March 2012

Does anyone have any suggestions for interesting books to read to a 2.5 yr old. Some books I have are too childish for my daughter and others I find are a little too verbose and she loses attention. I'm looking for books that have a story but not reems to read as her attention span is short. wannabebookworm

The books my kids loved best around age 2-3yrs were simple, short, often silly, picture books, especially on topics they adored (trucks, firefighters and dinosaurs, in our case). Some that my kids loved were 'Digger Man' by Andrea Zimmerman, 'The Grouchy Ladybug' by Eric Carle, 'If You Give a Mouse a Cookie' by Laura Numeroff, 'Goodnight, Gorilla' by Peggy Rathman and the Bartholomew Bear stories by Virginia Miller. Your local children's librarian can make some great recommendations, or check out this blog by a local librarian and parent for more ideas: JP

What counts as 'too verbose'? Where the Wild Things Are? Snowy Day? I suggest you ask the children's librarians at the Berkeley or Oakland Public library. Kathleen

I have a three year old and I agree it's hard to find books that the child AND parent enjoy. Maybe I'm simple, but I like the ones that rhyme (and my child does, too). A few favorites are Bear Snores On, Jamberry, and The Giant Jam Sandwich. anon

I love the Frog and Toad books, personally. We also love the following books: The Bear Snores On, The Napping House, Goodnight Moon, Where the Wild Things Are... And on and on.

My 3.5 year old still enjoys many board books (which is great, since we also have a baby!). We also continue to love the books we found about welcoming a new baby into the house and ones about learning to use the potty... I find the opposite problem, actually: I go the book store or the library and I find TOO MANY amazing books! I can't imagine feeling stuck. Bookworm Mama

One of my favorite children's books is 'Little Owl's Night' by Divya Srinivasan. I strongly recommend it as a great addition to any family library. It is Divya's first children's book and I can't wait for her next one!! Colleen cf

Books for Toddler About Bed-Time

April 2010

Hi! I'm looking for a book to read to my 2-year-old son that can help him imagine going to sleep on his own at night. We've found that he adapts best to change when we can read stories about something ahead of time. He's used to having us rock him to sleep or sit with him until he falls asleep at night and I'd like him to be able to picture that he can be okay if we leave the room while he is still awake. Thanks for any ideas you have! Sarah

Llama, Llama Red Pajama. been there

My son liked 'Joshua's Night Whispers' by Angela Johnson and 'Just Go to Bed' (Little Critter) by Mercer Mayer. The latter could be controversial since there is a toy gun in the story so beware. That being said, my son loved to read a couple of stories from The Little Critter Collection before bedtime. Also, 'Franklin in the Dark' by Paulette Bourgeois is a good one but may be slightly preschool- ish. Reading Mom

I love 'Llama, llama, red pajama'. (: no more llama drama

Two books that our 2yo loves are: -The Going To Bed Book by Sandra Boynton -Goodnight Gorilla

The Going to bed book was the VERY first book we ever started reading to our child (3mo) who WAS NOT INTERESTED in sleeping EVER! I think the idea of him sleeping was more a pipe dream for us, but we're also very big into early reading and he now loves, loves, loves books.

Goodnight Gorilla we started when he was about 1yo and it's mostly pictures of what Gorilla is doing at nighttime. I don't care for it because I'd prefer to read words, but my husband and son LOVE it. Probably because my husband is so great about adlibing. Finally Getting a Goodnight Rest

Try 'Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go To Sleep' about a brother and sister, Willoughby and Willa. Really charming! My boys all loved it.

Reading to a 15 month old?

April 2009

I have a very active and, so far as i can tell, fairly precocious fifteen-month-old girl. I keep seeing in parenting books, and in advice given here, about how important it is to read books to toddlers. But, and here's my question - how much attention should I expect her to be paying when I read? We have a lot of board and regular books, and she will go to the shelf, pull one down, and say ''buuh, buuh'', and even bring them to me, but once I start reading, she's up and about the room, and loses interest almost immediately. I can show her picture books, and she'll repeat words here and there, but her attention span is probably 30 seconds, if that - certainly not long enough to sit through an entire, say, green eggs and ham. she likes pulling books off the shelf more than hearing them read. Is this normal? Should I just keep reading, even though she's up playing with blocks or doing something else entirely? Is this something that varies by kid? I hear people who say their kid wants a book read and reread, and I worry because I'm not sure mine has ever heard all of ONE book. -Thank you.

I can relate. My now 17-month-old daughter was the same way a couple months ago. Picked up a book, liked turning pages, tossed it away quickly. She's better now but still doesn't sit for typical picture books or a normal reading. I consider it successful when we make it through a few pages. A couple tricks that worked for me: You don't have to read the story linearly or even read the text at all. When she turns to a page, talk about what's surprising or interesting or make up a little story about it, identify things on the page, ask her to identify things. Pick books that don't depend on a storyline from one page to the next, don't have much text at all and have bright, engaging pictures. ''Guess How Much I Love You'' is a nice book but it's a little boring. I liked ''Hug'' much better, not much text but told a story through bright, warm pictures and made it easy to engage my daughter. Books that had things my daughter could touch or feel or open flaps were also successful. Also pick a time when she's more quiet or in need of a rest or break sitting on your lap, that worked for me. We also started getting books from the library so there's more variety. I figure in time my daughter will enjoy hearing a whole story. You're not alone, keep at it! bookworm mom

This is normal behavior, children have very varied attention spans. 15 months is very young to pay attention for any length of time. It may feel more productive to you if you just talk about what is on the page with her, not always reading text, so you can turn the pages more quickly. Reading out loud to her even while she is doing other things is great! keep at it!

My son was the same at that age. I kept reading to him while he played, or gave him another book to play with while I read from a different one. I'm not sure if it helped, but he loves books. He could probably sit through a small board book shortly before age 2. By 2 1/2 he could handle Green Eggs and Ham, and would want to read book after book after book (and could actually stick with it). He's now 3, and we are reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 2-3 chapters per sitting. Have patience. It will come! happy reading!

My daughter was a very restless toddler, too, and it was very hard for me to read stories to her. It helped if we just talked about the pictures (kids that age seem to like realistic pictures - photos or realistic drawings) but even then she didn't sit for long. Now she is not yet 5 and reading almost entire kids books by herself. I don't think you should worry too much - many toddlers are too busy to sit down for a story. Just keep trying and she'll let you know when she's ready. I didn't read to my toddler and she is fine!

Don't worry about it. 15 mo old is way to early to expect a kid to sit through story time. Take a peek one day when they're holding storytime at the library - no 15-mo-olds there, I promise!

It's true, some kids can focus better than others. My 2 kids are very different that way. But even given that, kids really don't take serious interest in books until their language and cognition is good enough to keep track of a plot or storyline across - 2.5 years at LEAST! My younger daughter is nearly 3 and she will only now last through a short, fast-paced book. And for her, even know, it's not so much about understanding a ''plot'' as listening to the rythyms of the words. (And the pictures of course.) Definitely save Green Eggs and Ham until at least 3 years old.

At this age, I think books should be treated like any other kind of toy - it's great to expose your child to them but let her take the lead about how to engage with them. There's a reason that baby books are sturdy, with soft covers, some even chewable. Kids are still mostly physical/tactile/oral at that age. And definitely stick to picture books where you can (both) identify recognizable pictures. Look, doggy! And then you can move on to the blocks or the push toy and that's just fine. Give yourself a break, mama!

Keep reading! The only way to build her interest and stamina is through persistence. It's common for very active kids not to sit still and listen but they can multitask a lot better than we give them credit for. My own daughter, now 5, did sit still and look at the book as a baby and toddler, but now often draws or fools around with quiet toys while listening. Sometimes I think she's not paying attention but if I ask her anything about what I just read she answers promptly and correctly. Go figure--I can barely walk and chew gum at the same time. mom of a multitasker

Relax. I didn't make it all the way through Green Eggs until my son was at least 5! ''Reading'' for a 15 month old can either be just talking through a book - ''Look at the duck on this page - can you find the cow? What does a sheep say? Can you point to the brown horse?'' - none of which may be the actual words. Or it's just about listening to you read the actual words and hearing the rhythm and new vocabulary while she plays, maybe stopping by to have a look every now and then (esp if you comment on the illustrations). She obviously ''gets'' it - that books are for handing to mommy and having you read it. She's just not ready for the sitting still part. It'll come. Mom of Two

Your child is TOTALLY normal for a 15-month old. You are teaching her to LOVE books, but she doesn't have the attention span of a 3 or 4 year old yet. The fact that she's repeating words you say at 15-months is fantastic! You are doing EXACTLY what you should - don't worry about finishing the book if she's on to something else. However, if she seems to play independently while you're reading and you enjoy it - that's fine too. Take good care

15 month olds are very ''busy'' getting excited about everything in sight, so this behavior is very normal. The object of reading to a child is for them to get used to the whole context of books. This means the physical books themselves, hearing your voice, hearing the language that research shows is directly linked to better learning later and yes, pulling them off the shelf. I remember thinking our daughter only liked books for stepping on which was hard to stomach. She just LOVED the feeling of the book covers under her tiny feet. One thing I'd do if I were you is to follow her around as she gets up and walks away from you rather than staying seated with that book on your lap. That way you may be able to experience , as her ''right hand'' what's so exciting about all the busy- ness she's into. Don't talk with her, just follow her and see what she's seeing /doing.

I do feel if she starts to throw books or crunch them like mine did, you can talk with her the same way you would about petting an animal; ''touch softly'', ''don't throw the book'', and show her how to handle them for the precious things they are. Doing this really did carry forward for my kids. My girls are AVID readers now in elementary school. We made sure we read every single night to them, mostly with them on our laps just as you are, 365 days of the year, the past approx. 7 years. That's about 2500 nights (yes, of course we've missed some nights) of reading so far!! It's been the number one best thing we could have done with and for our children. leslie

Yes, it's normal.

Instead of reading the book as it's written, tailor it to her attention span. Pick one object and say ''ooh, a red ball!'' (turn page fast) ''ooh, a zebra!''

Sometimes, if I'm curious about a book, I will keep reading it aloud, while they are on to another thing, passively listening. Really though, don't worry. Your only job is to make sure that whatever moments she wants to ''read'' a book are moments that leave positive associations in her head, so she keeps coming back for more.

Keep it simple and don't worry - her attention will increase with age and interest in the subject matter.

P.S. Sing songy, rhythms or rhymes are the best for maintaining attention, or so I've found. It's because the patterns are soothing. Nann-o

Absolutely read to your child! You should let your child take the lead as far as how long you read to them, since children are all different. My oldest child (who is 19 and in college now) would sit for long periods of time when I read to her, and by age 3 we were reading Charlotte's Web and other chapter books. My second child would not sit still long enough for much reading and preferred more gross motor activities. I still took her to the library and found that she preferred the books with tapes so that when she was bored with the book, she was still listening to the story on the tape and could play at the same time. My two sons were equally different from each other - my youngest enjoying books much more than my third child. They are all great students, but have different learning styles. Go to the library and search for various mediums - kid's computer programs, books on tape, picture books, pop up books, etc. - keep exposing your child to books, but let your child determine how long they can sit for it. voice of experience

That is so funny to read--I thought it was just me! I have two 12 month old girls who do the EXACT same thing. They love pulling books down, and will even point at pictures, but once I try to hold the book and read to them, they just start trying to take it back or they wander away. I just figure that if they have any interest in books it's a good thing, and I'll keep trying and when they're ready to listen to a story they will do so. I suppose we could try putting them in bouncy chairs or some other enclosing device (a crib, maybe?), and see if it is any better. But I don't think it's anything to worry about yet. I'm sure there's absolutely no harm in reading to her while she's off playing with something else, it's better than having TV or some other noise in the backround, but I don't feel bad when my girls just aren't interested and I let them do their thing. There's so much else to worry about, in the grand scheme of things reading at that age is just a small ripple on the pond's huge surface! She's articulating, interacting, and active--be grateful you have a healthy beautiful daughter and have fun! in the same boat

My son was still reading little board books at that age - he's 2-1/2 and he's only been able to make it through a book as long as ''Green Eggs and Ham'' for a couple of months now. Some ideas: try some really basic books that you can get through in 30 seconds - we liked the Sandra Boynton books (like ''Blue Hat Green Hat'' or ''Moo Baa Fa-La-La''). Or just flip through the books and talk about the pictures. (i.e.: ''There's a doggie. There's a car.'') You might try one of those books with the photos of babies - that was a big favorite. You don't have to read any of the words - I found that my son liked it when I pointed out the same things every time, and that eventually morphed into reading words for short board books, and on to reading longer story books. Good luck! Kristine

sounds about right. Don't worry about it. You're showing her the pleasure of books, believe it or not, and a few years down the line she'll actually comprehend a story or want to ''read'' it on her own.

My 19-month-old daughter is and has always been like that as well. As soon as I start reading to her, she is up and about within 1 minute. I still continue to read to her because I figure it still beneficial and she is starting to become more interested in books than she was 6 months ago. What I've found that has helped is that I don't actually ''read'' the book word for word. I actually make things up with each page to keep it short and also say it in a dramatic manner to try to keep her attention a little longer. For example ''LOOK at the Kitty...WOW! kitty goes meow-meoew'' then I turn the page, and do the same. And this can be with her boardbooks or my magazines. cynthia

Yes! Keep reading to her. My now 2 year old was the same way with books. He would bring them to me and then I would start reading them and he would just walk away. I kept at it and now he LOVES to be read to. And I don't mean a little 10 or 15 page book but he will sit through a 95 page book!!! He has developed an intense concentration and I am told that is very very precocious for his age. He has memorized several books and will sit and ''read'' to himself. I strongly urge you to keep at it. I am doing the same for my 14 month old, who is just now beginning to sit for a couple of minutes of reading time. I can see that his concentration level is also starting to increase so I think this is the way to go about it. Mommy of boys that love books

My 15 month old isn't much different. She will sometimes sit through a book or two now (short ones), but often her attention span is about 30 seconds, too. She'd rather be up and about. I think that's normal for this age. You might want to try varying the times of day that you read to her. Maybe she'll be more amenable to it at a different time. Also, ''Green Eggs and Ham'' is kind of a long book. Stick to short books that have textures or flaps or something interactive. Also, you don't have to even read the books. Just talk to her about the pictures, or ask her to point to certain things on the page. I find it helpful to get picture books at the library on a topic that my daughter is currently obsessed with. A month or so ago it was dogs, now (after a recent plane trip), it's airplanes. She will sit through 3 airplane books simply because it fascinates her now. I also think it is fine and even helpful to continue reading the books even when she has left your lap and started playing. At least she is hearing the language. Finally, I have made it a priority to read to my child. If she brings me a book, I do the best I can to immediately stop what I'm doing (dinner, laundry, emails) to read to her. It's sometimes inconvenient, but it sends the message that books are important. Good luck! working on creating an avid reader

DOn't fret. At this age, ''reading to your child'' means ''enjoying books together,'' the details of which will differ with different kids. Looking at pictures, pointing to familiar things, etc. are great. Green Eggs and Ham is pretty lengthy; I'd stick with board books with simple pictures and few, if any, words - there doesn't need to be a real story, and you can make one up as you go along, if desired. Enjoying the feel of the book, turning the pages, and maybe noticing the pictures is really fine. R.K.

My daughter was the same way. Always came and handed me a book to read, but wouldn't sit still for more than 5 seconds in order for me to read them. Even when going to bed. My pediatrician told me that it is just as good to read out loud when your toddler is in the room doing something else. I did that and now she is over 2 and loves books. SHe would sit and listen to me read all day if I would do it. Keep reading. They are absorbing it even though it may not seem that way. Anon

The plot of the story (Green Eggs and Ham in your example) is not important, nor is sitting through it. At 15 months, it's about developing an enjoyment of books. Things that contribute to the enjoyment factor: Your full, undivided attention. Snuggling with a parent. Turning pages. Looking at pictures, pointing at the doggy, Mooing like the cow in the picture. At 15 months, my son's favorite books were lift-the-flap type books like ''Where's Spot?'' or the simplest of board books with basic pictures of objects, bugs, trucks, etc. Even before that, the board books were simply used for teething, and the love grew from there. Keep it up, and work within the limits of her attention span, which will increase over time. L

The attention span of your 15-month old is very short and that is totally normal. I used to teach a family literacy class (many years ago) and I was taught to tell parents to read to their young children only as long as the child is interested.

You don't have to finish a book. The most important thing is that you enjoy the time together & enjoy the book (it shouldn't be forced). The more exposure to books, the more you are encouraging her interest in books. If your daughter just wants to look at the pictures and say her own words, that's great too. You are doing just what you are supposed to be doing! Happy reading. suzanne

Just wanted to give you some assurances. I think for a very active child, lots of movement and lack of attention during reading is to be expected. I had a very active toddler, and expectations of lovingly reading to my peaceful child to keep in check. In truth, I was very disappointed to my daughter's response to reading. Someone told me to read to her while she was eating in her high chair and while she was in the bath. I read almost exclusively in the bath for about a year with positive results. I was able to finish a book or two beginning to end, and I think her attention span was strengthened a bit by the process.

My daughter is almost four, and I read to her at least an hour a day, every day. In fact, it pains me to have to tell her ''last story for the more'' because of the difficulty I had in the beginning with reading to her. Bookworm Momma

Book for 19-month-old about being a big brother

Sept 2007

Can anyone recommend a good book about being a big brother/big sister? My son is 19 months and I am pregnant, due in December. I thought this might help him prepare. Thanks

Congratulations on your second baby. We are in very much the same situation (son 20 months old and due with #2 in December) and have been reading our son two books that were recommended by his school & other friends: ''I'm a Big Brother'' by Joanna Cole and ''My New Baby'' by Annie Kubler. They're both great and our son asks to read them all the time (though i don't think he really ''gets it''). Just so you know, the second book is just pictures with no words so you can talk about whatever for the story. Hope that that helps and all the best! mom of a big-brother-to-be

I'm a Big Sister (Brother) by Joanna Cole. My daughter really likes it. A in Alameda

My son was 3 when our baby was born. He enjoyed ''I'm a Big Brother'' by Joanna Cole. The kids still read it together a year and a half later! ''You're all my Favorite'' by Sam McBratney (the author of ''Guess How Much I Love You'' is good as reassurance that you love both kids the same. Best of luck to you! mom of 2

We have The New Baby, by Mercer Meyer. I like it because the concepts are simple. The big brother is excited to share his toys and books, but is frustrated when the baby doesn't respond the way he expects. And then the mom tells him some ways to interact with a baby. Hannah

Our son was 26 months when his little brother was born, and the 2 books he/we liked best were: - ''My New Baby'' by Annie Kubler -- no words; simple pictures show the dad making dinner with the big brother while mom nurses the baby and other typical scenes; ends with mom and dad reading to b.b. while baby sleeps. Kind of shows what to expect and reassures at the same time. - ''Digger Man'' by Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha - not about a new baby per se, but about a big brother teaching/helping his little brother; helped get him psyched about his new role (plus it has diggers in it, always a plus for boys this age!). JP

Hi, I'm a psychotherapist who works with children and I have a book in my office by Mr. Rogers for children who are going to become big brothers and sisters that I really like.

I'm a Big Brother by Joanna Cole and Maxie Chambliss is a great book... my son loved it when he became a big brother and now my daughter even loves it, too. Sarah

We absolutely loved the book ''The New Baby at Your House'' by Joanna Cole. One of the things I like about it is that it useds photos, not drawings, so I think kids can relate. There's a mix of families and situations, and it covers everything from Mommy having to go away to the hospital to it's ok to feel frustrated about the new baby. My son would remind me of things we read in the book when he was dealing with his new baby twin sisters. anon

Good going-to-sleep book for a nearly 2-year old

Jan 2007

Any recommendations on a good going-to-sleep book for a nearly 2-year old? We have the usual suspects for bedtime stories (Goodnight Moon, Boyton's Going to Bed Book, Guess How Much I Love You, etc.) but what I'm looking for is a quite literal book about a kid going to bed. Like those books that help toddlers let go of their pacifier, learn to use the potty, etc. Something we can read together and talk about and apply to her bedtime. Thanks for your suggestions! sleepy mama

You could try ''10 Minutes to Bedtime'' by Peggy Rathman. It's a story about a child' pet hamster who leads hamster tours of the getting-ready-for-bed process. It's almost entirely a picture book, and very cute. I do have to let you know that the illustrations are increasingly detailed as the story goes on, so it may not be one to read at your child's actual bedtime. Too busy.

''How do Dinosaurs say goodnight'' by Jane Yolen is a good one. Andi

Reading to 16mo Old - weird?

Dec 2006

A kinda weird question - we try to read to our 16mo old, but he takes the books out of our hands and turns the pages real quick, so we end up only saying the first few words on each page. He does this on his own, and he brings books to us but he still wants to turn the pages. Should we ''force'' him to slow down so he understands that there are words and story, or just let him flip the pages?

I ask because I hear all the time to ''read, read, read to your kid....language developent... etc...'' but a few words every page does not a cohesive story make..... so I am guessing that this really does not ''count'' and am afraid we have been lacking in this area because our Dr said he should be saying complete words by now, and he only says shortened versions of words - ie MMMmmm for milk, NaNa for nurse/mama, day-day for dance plus a bunch of others that seem repeatable, and unique with tone and inflection but we can not figure out what the words are. We ask him to get this or do that and he follows directions so I think he is compehending.

He definately can hear well, so I don't think that is the issue, any advise? Is this normal, or should we make reading much more structured? Short Sentence Mama

This sounds pretty normal to me, and I wonder if you're just reading books that are a little too advanced for your son's age? My 23-month old has always been pretty verbal for his age, but couldn't sit through ''Green Eggs and Ham'' until a few months ago - and still frequently skips pages on many books to get to his favorite parts (find the goat in Green Eggs and Ham, get to the pumpkin in an alphabet book, etc.). So: if your son only lets you read a few words per page, maybe you could try books that only *have* a few words per page until he gets a little older, but I can't believe that hearing only snippets of stories would be harmful. Not an expert, just a mom

This is EXACTLY what my daughter did at that age. I would just read whatever words were on the page that she turned to. With her, this phase did not last too long, and she would have me read to her all day long now if I could. I think what you are doing is great. I do think it's important for little ones to be exposed to lots and lots of language when they are that age. Don't worry about it not being structured. You are creating a habit with him by him just sitting your lap looking at the books and flipping the pages. He will begin to develop more of an attention span as he gets just a little bit older and you will be able to actaully get through an entire book. Also, just have the books that you read to him now have a few words on the page. I think of books like Moo, Baa, La La La. Things like that. Just let him flip! Jenny

This is totally normal...the idea is for them to love books and for this experience to grow with them. Right now, they want to look at the pictures, find out what things are etc. At this age, I used to just make up the story or read only 1 line on each page. As your child grows up, he will have more patience to listen to more of the story and it will seem like less of a chore. In a year or so, you can read while running your finger along the word to make your child realize that you are reading words...that the story is there on the page. And when they get to Kindergarden they will be excited when they can read these words themselves. Let it evolve. But keep reading to build these habits Anon

weird? no, it's great! let your kid lead you. it's enough to just point to pictures and say what they are, or play a game and ask him where the dog/train/baby/apple/etc. is. as for verbal development, they don't even look into it until 2 years old. my son had 2 words, bye bye and baah for bath until 19 months old when things just started kicking in. kids develop at different speeds and verbal skills often come slower in boys. relax. enjoy your baby. he likes his books and that's fabulous anon

The point is to socialize our kids from an early age into books being a normal and enjoyable part of their lives. For a long time, my son basically played with books by chewing on them. Later he enjoyed opening and closing books, threw books around, etc. We'd sit together and look at only the pictures. He'd manage what page we looked at and when we'd stop. Only recently (he's 21 months now) does he actually enjoy my reading an entire story. Even then, it depends on the story. Some of the books he wants me to read to him are a little long (more than a few words per page) and so I'll just point at the pictures and kinda summarize quickly what's going on (''And there's the doggie. And then the little boy played with the doggie. And then look! The boy and the doggie found an ice cream!'', etc). Sometimes we'll just name the pictures on the page (''And that's a clock. And that's a door...'') The point is, we let him take the lead and we vary what we do with the books. Its more important the books remains fun and not overwhelming or frustrating.

I'm an ed psych PhD candidate and have read a fair amount of the research behind early education and development. Rest assured that the point is not to have him sit down and listen to a full story from infancy on. The research simply shows that kids exposed to a home full of books and who live in a world where books and stories are a daily part of life have an advantage in terms of literacy development once they get to school. Playing with books, flipping the pages, pointing out pictures count just as much. A Toddler Mom

I'll be interested to hear what other folks say, but we have basically the same experience with our kid the same age. My take on it is, the more interest they show in books, the better. If they want to flip through the pages rapidly, or chew on the corners, fine. I'm assuming that eventually more interest in the story will emerge, and for now am just happy that books and ''reading'' are seen as fun. Some favorite books I have memorized so I can recite the full text even if the pages aren't in front of me!

Your post made me laugh because I have the same experience with MY 16 month old, and have since he was 6 months. He's a very hands on kid and trying to get him to sit and do anything for more than a minute is impossible. So I just don't. Why make it a bad experience for him? At some point he'll be able to sit for long periods, so I'll just wait for that. He does, however, enjoy a group story time, at the library or at Studio Grow, so I take him to those as often as I can Jill

I think you should continue as is, and offer books every day but let your toddler decide on how much to read. I, too, stressed out about the message that you should read to your kid from day one (even before!). I remember with my 1st kid, trying to read to him from his plastic ''teether'' book at about 3 mos. Now that seems ridiculous! It's true that pediatricians, etc., tell you to ''read'' but I think the meaning of that word will change over time. It was only at about 18 mos. that my son was reliably interested in books, and then we almost never read the exact text but focused on identifying pictures (look! a doggy!) or making up ''stories'' that he could understand (look! the doggy is eating dinner!). The other thing we did was get books with bright, simple pictures and scenes - not plots. Our favorites were the Priddy Books, with a page like ''5 things that are red'' and so on. Now, at 2 1/2, our son finally sits still long enough to listen to short plots, but he still gets impatient and turns the page if there are more than 2-3 sentences on 1 page.

As for the language, that is a different issue, but I think clarity of speech at this age comes more from hearing people speak than from reading per se. So, you can relax! Booklover

My two cents: We also want to encourage our son's love of books (he's 13 mos.), so we have tons of books around the house, and ''read'' together at least once a day. These days, our reading sessions involve anything from him sitting in my lap, quietly listening to the story and looking at pictures, to him turning pages faster than I can see them, or even gnawing on the book and laughing while I try to recreate the story from memory (since I can't see the text through all of that drool). All of these variations are fine with me, because he is learning to love books, and explore what they're all about (including how they taste, apparently). I know he's intrigued by books in general, because he constantly pulls them off of the shelf and brings them to us. At this point, I just let him use the books in any way he wants in order to encourage that fascination. Lately he has begun to open books on his lap, babble seriously, then turn the page and babble seriously some more, as if reading to himself, so I think he's picking up the general idea. I guess my (long-winded) point is that the cohesiveness of the story isn't so critical at this stage, because reading/listening comprehension isn't really the goal - fostering a love of books and reading is.

(Also, I am not a doctor, so please do not take my post as any kind of medical advice, but I can tell you this: I know many, many kids (mostly boys) who didn't start to use coherent words until they were 17 or 18 mos., and they are all perfectly bright, normal kids now.) Less Structure OK With Me

We read to our 16 month-old and he is getting more and more patient. Now, he loves books. He used to flip the pages fast, too. I think instead of getting him to slow down, you need to change your expectations and just go along with him. He doesn't need to ''learn'' that books have a narrative right now. It is fun to flip the pages and it familiarizes them with books. My son used to really love looking at kids' books that have photogrphs of everyday objects (commonly found at bookstores) and id the photos. Now he likes to sit through story books, too, as long as there are not too many words on each page. The children's librarian at our local library thought he was really patient sitting for books, for his age, so it sounds like your boy is right on track. I encourage you to have fun with it and not turn it into a battle or a ''learning opportunity''. That 's the fastest way to ruin the pleasure of reading. As for speech, my son is barely talking right now. I think your ped. is way off on that. I think both our kids are well in the range of normal readers

My 16-month-old does the exact same thing when we're reading together. He loves to ''read'' and is always running to me with a book in his hands, but like yours, he flips through the pages faster than I can read them! And these are usually very simple board books too. His language is similar to yours too. I have a feeling it's normal and that you will see posts from other parents saying it's similar for them. I think it's wonderful that our toddlers are enjoying the reading experience, even if it seems odd right now from our point of view. Lisa in Oakland

Your son's behavior is completely normal. Certain children are much faster with wanting to be read to than others. This is his way of being together with you and enjoying your attention. It's similar to the toy in the big box. We purchase the toy as a play item, but the true gift to the child is the big box. It's just his way of enjoying something that you offer to him.

My daughter loved being read to and we started this at a very young age. She always loved it and still does. However, my son, who is no 2 1/2, has extremely little interest. He used to act like your son does; turn pages and then move on to the next book. Now he loves reading certain basic stories, like ''Goodnight Moon'' and other simple story lines. He wants the reading time to be more interactive - he wants to participate. My daughter loved listening to the stories. Different people, that's all!

Don't worry about the talking thing either. Completely normal! Sure, there are kids who can say complete sentences by his age, but my friend's 4-yr old still babbles a lot and I can't understand most of what she says. Your son is just fine! JOJ

I'd suggest looking for board books with just a sentence or two per page and for lift-the-flap books. My now 18-month-old fell in love with ''Moo, Baa, La La La'' by Sandra Boynton several months ago. She still won't sit down for a traditional story, but she loves reading time. Sandra Boynton's books are great for this age (''Doggies''--a counting and barking book--is her current favorite, she also loves ''The Belly Button Book''). She's also very fond of ''Dear Zoo'' and ''Daisy's Hide and Seek,'' both of which have one sentence per page, a lot of repetition, and flaps to lift.

And I say go ahead and let him turn the pages, you want to communicate that reading is fun, not a chore. Kids at this age just aren't designed to sit still for long. Good luck Pam

Your 16mo.old child seems to be doing just fine. My 21 months old is the same way with books. You can not sit down and read to her b/c she grabs the book out your hand and says, she will read. So we let her. We just pick another book and read that to her while she is looking at her book. She listens to our reading because she tells us to keep reading if we stop. Second, reading books to your child will not create a reader in your family. Studies have shown that having books around your child and accessible to him will raise a reader. Also, as he gets older, he will sit through stories. Finally, boys start talking much later than girls. The fact that he merely makes some sounds and does not say full words is very common. Many boys do not start talking or saying words until age 2 or older.

your 16 mo behavior is totally typical. I don't think you have to read to him now for comprehension, it is more just showing interest and attention to books--so let him do what he wants as long as you are both interacting with the book.

Perhaps you can get some real simple books that have to words (Donald Crews) or very few words and just talk while he is flipping through the book. I mean, how will he know if you are really reading the story anyway?

It is more just the habbit of hanging out with books that is important at this age. Also, introducing the idea that books are treated differently than other objects (they go on a shelf, we don't tear the pages, etc.) is important to introduce at this point mama to reading 5 yo

My 17-month-old daughter is the same way. I value reading, always envisioned lovely storytime hours with my baby, and felt utter disappointment when my child tore through the books before I could even read one sentence to her. After some research, I have come to see that my child is extremely physical and high-spirited. She just doesn't have the patience and controls to sit through a story. But I have not given up. I now make games of her choosing her books, bringing them to me, and screaming out the most identifiable word on the page before it whizzes by. BUTTERFLY! GREEN EGGS! We laugh. I feel the bonding experience. And I know that I'm demonstrating that I value reading because of these exercises, as well modeling to her as I enjoy my own books.

Try not to worry, and pick up your own book. Your toddler will likely value what you value. BTW, I often read my books standing up so that my daughter can't rip them out of my hands. Or, I read sitting on the toilet while she is enjoying her bath Kari

I could never read to my children as babies/young toddlers, either -- neither had any sort of attention span for it. When I tried, they acted like yours does. Unlike yours, each developed language skills early, and it certainly wasn't because they were read to! Common sense suggests that reading is not as key to language development as speaking and communication, so as long as you are constantly interacting and communicating the language development should come. If it does not, I suppose you might want to see a specialist. If your pediatrician is concerned, he/she should suggest some experts and/or strategies for you Christine

Don't stress about it - your child's development seems pretty normal, both with language and the interest in books. Right now he likes turning the pages, maybe looking at a couple of pictures - hurray! It's fine that he isn't ready to sit for a whole story, and many kids aren't at that age - mostly you want him to see reading as an enjoyable activity, which won't happen if you try to force it. The benefit kids get from reading is both developing a love of reading and language acquisition, but language happens any time to speak to your child and use words, not just when you are telling a story. My nephew couldn't sit for a story until he was almost 3 - what his Dad finally did was he would take the book and just read out loud near him, even though he couldn't sit to listen the whole time he was hearing the story as he puttered around. As for your son's vocabulary, it also sounds pretty normal - both of my boys weren't producing many understandable words at that age. My older one was quite behind in language development until he was about 2 ys 9 mos, when all of a sudden his vocabulary exploded and now he is very verbal without any delays. They all take their own time with it - if he is hearing normally try not to get too anxious Patient Mom

You're doing fine Mama! This is normal. I have a 3 YO and a 1 YO (15 mo's). I would say the 15mo just got ''into'' books with in the last 2 months. She is quite active, so doesn't sit still. (quite the opposite of her sister, 3YO, who loves books and was pretty much speaking by this same point. so i'm having my own hard time trying not to compare them) If your baby will sit, just long enough to quickly flip the short board books, I find you cannot ''read'' the story, but point out words in the book. ''Bunny'', (point) see the bunny? Bunny has shoes on. Point to shoes ''Shoes''., etc. After we've done a specific book a few times, then I might ask questions. Where's the bunny? Show mama the shoes. She's starting to point to the objects! Also I give her books in the car or if we have to go to the grocery story, etc. She's getting used to holding the book, and flipping the pages herself. Doesn't matter if it's upside down. Doesn't matter if she's flipping the book and jabbering gobeldy- gook. She's getting the idea. In the past two mo's we've moved from the 'fast flip' of one board book before bed to a slower flip of two board books before bed. She's starting to be still enough to listen to a little of the story. I paraphrase a lot. Since the intro of the books, she is exploding with new words everyday, so then I find most of my time with her is pointing to things and naming them. She tries the words, not always understandable, but if she tries, I exclaim! Yes, that's right ''towel'' and say the word again. I think the routine/repetition of reading before bed (or nap- or both!) gets them the idea and then they are more apt to realize this is a special time with you and they will start wanting more. It's very exciting this stage. I love it. Enjoy!

I'm a children's librarian and the mother of a 15-month-old boy. I can't really address your nervousness that your son doesn't speak enough words -- except to say that my kid, who loves to be read to, speaks in fragments as well, so I'm not sure reading has much to do with speech. (I think hearing books builds passive vocabulary, or understanding, more than active vocabulary, or speaking.) But I do have a professional answer to your query as to whether you should make reading ''more structured.'' I say NO, NO, NO!

It's terrific that your son enjoys books in his own way, and to force him to go through the books more slowly and completely (if you even could) will very probably destroy whatever enjoyment he already has. Don't think about the book ''counting'' or not, as you put it -- just have a good time together! I think the main goal of reading to your toddler (or child of any age) is to teach that books are fun. That's a real gift you can pass along. If you're still concerned about language acquisition, I'd concentrate on pointing out *real* objects rather than making reading time lesson time.

Having said that, maybe you need to try different books, ones that can be read rapidly. You mentioned that ''a few words every page does not a cohesive story make,'' and that makes me think that the books you're reading are too complex. There's no need for a ''story'' at this age -- try one of the many ''word books'' that have one object and one word per page. Nursery rhymes are also good, because even if he whips through the page turns you can keep saying the rhyme without looking at the words -- we liked ''Tomie DePaola's Baa Baa Black Sheep'' from an early age. Also, how about lift-the-flap books, like ''Where's Spot?'', that will physically engage your son? (Your local children's librarian should have more title suggestions for you.) Finally, who says you have to stick to the words on the page? Have an informal conversation about the book -- ''Where's the cat? What does the cat say?'' -- and see if that is more appealing to your son at this point.

And when your son is in third grade and wants to read only comic books, please don't tell him that those books don't ''count'' either. A love of reading is its own reward! Nicole R.

Not to worry about your son's speaking abilities. Given that his hearing's okay, I'd say your doctor is being a little rigid in his/her expectations. My husband didn't say a word until he was two, then suddenly spoke in complete sentences. He now has his doctorate from UCB.

As to reading, I would just follow your son's lead and let him ''read'' the way he wants to. The point is for him to develop a positive attitude towards books. He'll come around to wanting to know more about what's in them in his own time. Kimberly in Alameda

Like the other people who answered, my daughter has been the same. Now, at 16 months, she is finally starting to be able to sit still a little longer as we look at books, but previously, she did exactly the same thing as your child. Even now, she prefers the books that identify things (animals, colors, daily objects) to those with stories.

Currently, she says only a few words: mama, dada, bye-bye, hi/hello, hi there. I don't know WHERE your ped gets off suggesting your child should be speaking more. Absurd, every child is different. While the other kids in my daughter's play- group may speak more words, my daughter signs like gang-busters, signing in 2 and 3 word sentences, even (occasionally), so I know she comprehends much more than she speaks (out loud). Sounds as if your kid is the same, so there's nothing to worry about with regard to verbal development Mommy of Signing Sally

Plan on going through a stack of books at a time. This is how you ''read'' to your son now. Speed reading! Later, it'll progress to actual words. Try pointing to one thing on each page and saying ''there's a brown dog - woof! woof!'' or ''Do you see the girl running?''. Don't force anything & keep it fun. Both my kids started that way and are avid book-lovers. P

My advice which is a little bit different than the others is to pay attention to the progress that your son makes in speaking. While many moms will tell you that their child didn't speak at all until 2 or later and then spoke in complete sentences, if you think that your child can't form complete words, get a free speech evaluation from your health insurance or from the Regional Center of the East Bay. When my 18 month old son only had a few words but had perfect hearing and comprehension, I had him evaluated and we could have started speech therapy then. I decided to wait until he was two, when he only had a few dozen words to start speech therapy. I wish that I had started earlier. Don't listen to people who say that they or their child didn't speak until they were two or later. While that is true for some, if your child is one who needs speech therapy, this is the best time to get it and it's free from the state until a child reaches three. Don't obsess about it but take what your doctor says seriously enough to determine your own child's needs. Every child is different. anon

Books about adult and baby animals for 2-year-old

Aug 2006

I would love to find a book with pictures and names of adult and baby animals (cow/calf, horse/foal, etc.) For a bright two-year-old! Thanks lisa

I used to read ''I'm a Baby, You're a Baby'' by Kopper to my storytimes for 2- and 3- year-olds. No pictures of the adult animals, but the text allows for a fun guessing game: ''I'm a baby, you're a baby; we are baby horses ... foals!''

There are others -- do you know the reference book ''A to Zoo''? It lists picture books by topic (from baby animals to loss of a family member). Your local library will have it, and the librarian can help you with it Children's Librarian

My kids were given a board/lift-the-flap book that has one page with adult and baby animals. The other pages are animal sounds, colors, what they eat. It's been a real hit with my daughter (now 5), and my 3 year old son still loves it. It's an ''Active Minds'' book, called simply _Animals_. Now that I look at it, it was apparently published by Leapfrog, in 2001 Donna

My son has a subscription to Wild Animal Baby from the National Wildlife Federation ( It is a small book that comes out 10 times a year and is geared toward toddlers. The front pages always have pictures of a baby animal with it's mom or dad, and a couple of facts about the animal. My 2 1/2 year-old loves it and already can name more types of animals than a lot of adults. Most libraries also have a subscription that you can look at in the children's section. Brenna

Usborne books has 2 board books that might do. One is ''Baby Animals Board Book'' - 0-7460-1976-9 and the second is ''Animals Baby Board Book'' - 0-7460-4102-0. My favorite book is the ''Complete Book of Farmyard Tales'' - 0-7945-0902-9. It includes a CD that is great for naptime and bedtime relaxing. My 2-year old grandchild loves that book and the CD. Check out the books at Joann

My favorites are, ''Mama, Mama'' and ''Papa, Papa'' by Jean Marzollo and ''Time for Bed'' by Mem Fox Amalia

I didn't read your original post, but I definitely second the recommendation of Mem Fox's book, ''Time for Bed.'' One of my all-time favorites is ''Guess How Much I Love You'' by Sam McBratney (a classic about a father and son rabbit.) paula

Book for Toddler on Colors

March 2006

My son is 26 months and very interested in colors. He seems to have mastered identifying the basic primary colors and I would like to start talking about different colors (violet, aqua etc.) Does anyone have any book recommendations or suggestions for a different approach to colors? Thanks

Try Little Blue and Little Yellow. This sets the stage for talking about color mixing and secondary colors. fred

I recommend Betty Edwards on Colors. She wrote Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain. Suzanne

This is mainly dealing still with primary colors, but if you haven't read it yet, Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh is very enjoyable. Elizabeth

I'm a big fan of My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss. It ties various colors to emotions. Our girl (now 4 1/2) really like it when she was a toddler. Here it is on Amazon: There's also a board book version, which is what we have.

My kids (2 and 5) got a lovely book for Christmas that is about color. It's called *Color, Color, Where Are You Color* and it is by Mary Koski and illustrated by Janeen Mason. It has all the usual suspects in terms of color, but also has some non-typical colors. The page with gold says, ''Gold, gold, is your story told? Poppies and aspen and honey to hold. Wheat fields at dawn, fur of a fawn- look all around you, and find something gold.'' The illustrations are beautiful and the kids love to point to stuff around the room that are, in this case, gold. Molly G

Sticker book with re-usable stickers

March 2006

My 18 month-old son loves stickers but burns through them so quickly and they are so expensive! (He puts them on paper or a door we let him decorate.) I found an internet site that sells stickers very cheap (oriental trading company) but it still seems wasteful and each sticker gets only seconds of use (except for the occasional reuse of a sticker). Are there any good sticker books out there where you can reuse the stickers and move them around throughout the pages of the book? My son is really into construction vehicles (excavators, etc.), trucks, trains and animals so sticker books with any of those themes would be a bonus. Thanks!!! Andi

Amazon has a ton of reusable sticker books for sale (search ''Sticker Picture Books'' at Amazon), and I'm sure you can find them locally, too. Themes include construction, rescue vehicles, the aquarium, the airport, baseball, the rainforest - everything. They're about $5 a pop. We've tried 3 or 4 so far and some seem to be more reusable/repositionable than others, but our 2.75yo loves them - and they're great for travel because they're compact and quiet. JP

Yes, these exist--look for a brand called Sandylion. We got two Sandylion reusable sticker books at Mr. Mopps (a while back), and my son loved them. They were especially great for bringing on trips. Stick 'em once, stick 'em twice, reusable sticker books are so nice

Cleaning board books

June 2005

I just bought a bunch of board books at a thrift store and I'm wondering how to clean them? My husband thinks we should just throw them out, that they could be harboring germs, but that seems overkill to me ... new books are covered with chemicals, anyhow. Anyone have a healthy technique to clean board books? Tamar

Wipe them down with a rag and non toxic cleaner of choice and then open and set out in the sun to dry. The sunshine will kill anything left on them. Stephanie

I just soaped up with a sponge, and wiped them off, and dried them. I didn't worry much about ruining them since I only paid 50cents or so for each, but none of them was ruined. I wiped off the edges and each of the pages. You could also spray them with a vinegar/water spray. But do wipe them dry. I never had any problems. janet

Toddler books about sleeping through the night

June 2005

Any suggestions for great kids books to help a toddler sleep through the night and/or night wean? I'm looking for something along the lines of the Once Upon A Potty book, which worked great for potty stuff. Now I'd like something cute for him that ''teaches'' him it's ok to sleep all night, and/or ''wait til morning'' before having more breast milk. -tired of being sleep deprived

I'd like to kiss the feet of whomever recommended this book to me. It has changed everything. My little one sleeps from 6pm to 7am every night ... and takes an 1.5 hr nap every day. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child ... Terri

We made our own book with our 5 year old: wrote down all the steps about what to do/happens when he wakes up in the middle of the night and how to try to go back to sleep, etc. then took digital photos of him doing all the things. Granted, we still had to do some other gentle interventions (we started reading the book about a week before the ''interventions'') but it really seemed to help him feel more in control and reassured. He's sleeping pretty well now but I often find him reading ''his book'' to himself. Good luck. Sleepless for Too Long

I don't know the name of any kid's book that addresses this issue, but when we were doing sleep training when our daughter was about 9-12 months old, we consulted Meg Zweiback, who had a suggestion that helped. We told stories with bears (Mommy bear and Baby bear) about going to bed. We would tell her about the bed time routine (which is always the same, bath, pj's, brush teeth, story, nurse) and then part of the story would be about her waking up at night and crying. ''Little Bear wakes up and cries, 'Mommy, mommy!' And Mommy Bear says to Little Bear, 'Go back to sleep, Little Bear, everything's OK.' But Mommy Bear stays in her room and Little Bear stays in her crib and goes back to sleep . . . '' Well, you get the idea. It's kind of silly-sounding, but our daughter really got into it and later would repeat part of the story back to us. Good luck! Finally sleeping through the night

Visual point-to-it dictionary for 13 month old

June 2005

We're looking for a visual dictionary for use with our 13 month old. He's at the stage where he points at things and wants to know the sound and matching ASL sign. But it is not always clear just what he's pointing at in a cluttered picture.

We have the Webster's Children's Visual Dictionary (ISBN 0-7853-101402) but it is a bit too much (the difference between a suspension bridge and a bascule bridge seems a bit academic at the moment, as does the distinction betwen a sarong and kabaya). It will be great later.

For now we're looking for something simple, with one picture per page, for easy pointing. Either photographs or drawings would be good, we're not sure what's best. Any ideas? Bryce

When my daughter was 15 months old, she also loved to point to pictures and hear what she was seeing. We spent lots of time in bookstores looking at books that would have many images that we could label for her. None of these we found have single pictures per page, but as your son can point more easily perhaps that won't be as much of a problem? (A benefit of the multiple images per page is that the book doesn't get old as quickly! We could always flip to a new page and find some things of interest.) I'm listing these in our approximate order of preference. She's now 2 years old and still enjoys them.

1. Betty Root, My First Dictionary, DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley), 1993. Mix of photos and drawings. Words and short written definitions (making it easier for adults to come up with something to say about it!).

2. Gyo Fujikawa, Gyo Fujikawa's A to Z Picture Book, 1974 (though has had later editions). Possibly out of print, but copies are available at Amazon. All drawings, no definitions. A page or two per letter, with cute drawings of things starting with that letter. Some of the spreads are a little strange (which is why I haven't put this at #1) but others are delightful. Our daughter loved this one.

3. Betty Root, My First Dictionary, Parragon Publishing, 2002. All drawings (no photos), with short definitions. By same author as #1, so very similar in content and text, but we didn't like it quite as much.

4. The American Heritage Picture Dictionary, Houghton Mifflin, 2003. All drawings (no photos). Some words are used in a sentence, others have no text. They use the same characters in pictures over and over, so there is some sense of continuity, but this doesn't add much. Overall fine, but I prefer ones that include definitions. Labeling Mom

I don't have a one-item-per-page book to recommend, but the Roger Priddy picture books are fantastic. These were our daughter's favorite books until she was about 18 months old. There are many of them and they're beautiful. Our daughter used sign language, too, a lot of it. She learned many, many words from these books and their very clear pictures. There's a good selection of Roger Priddy books at Mr. Mopp's. Roger Priddy fan

How to begin the habit of reading in 17 month old

Jan 2005

My baby boy (17 month old) is very active. I am trying to induce the habit of reading books to him but so far havent suceeded. He will look at a picture book for 5 sec then keep it aside. Even if I read aloud the book to him, he does not pay attention. Any suggestions. Thanks Mom

I was in your place just a couple months ago. My son, now 21 months, would not sit still for a book. I did worry that he wouldn't learn, and that it would be a problem -- but I decided not to push it. The only thing I did is get lots of pop up and peek a boo books bcs he seemed more interested when he could physically interact with the book (opening flaps, sliding pages open). I also just let him destroy those books (bcs he really wanted to do it himself, and it was hard for him to be gentle). And you know here we are a few months later and he loves sitting down and reading books with us. He points to things, says all the words, laughs because he knows a joke is coming up (a turkey with a shoe on his head? oh my!) etc. So my general e! xperience and belief is that you just kind of have to let them pursue their interests in their own time frame, and not push. That boy loves to run

Try reading ''interactive'' books - books where you lift a flap, pull something out, or an animal pops up. These got my very active child hooked on reading books, and also allowing her to turn the pages. I also didn't force her to sit on my lap - we'd lie on the rug next to eachother. Good luck!

My boy reads now because he saw me reading all the time from his infancy and wanted to copy me. This was sort of counter- intuitive for me--I wondered if he would resent my reading because it was taking me away from him. But somehow he liked it when I read on my own in front of him--it meant I was nearby but not bugging him, he could do his own stuff and know I was! right there. He just made the association that reading is what grown- ups do, it's what people do when they aren't babies. So he wanted to learn to do that, too. (He also thinks when you're grown up, you read to other people, so he likes to read to me, which I love.) I think 17 months is a great time to do that. Your boy is lucky that you're thinking about that for him now. Mom with Boy and Books

When my almost 4-year old daughter was a baby we read somewhere that one thing you can do to get your kids into reading is to make sure they see YOU reading books to yourself. The easiest time for this, we found, is early in the morning if you have an ''early riser''. Let your son play by himself while you sit near him and read to yourself. This also works at other times in the day, of course, we just found that the early morning time is when the kid! s have a lot of energy and we were still at an energy low. In any event, my children do see us read regularly and both my daughter and my 19 month old son LOVE books. I just have to remember to hide ''Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do you See?'' to stay sane... jennifer

My son was never interested in books until he turned 2 - At that age he became interested in turning the pages and looking at the pictures, and eventually he wanted to hear the story too. I wouldn't push it, it just takes time. Now my son is 4.5 and loves to listed to stories for 1/2 every night, even stories without pictures! Just leave the books around, and he will let you know when he is ready. loves to read too

Don't sweat it. Kids are different; maybe yours can teach my book-fiend toddler how to be more active. 17 months is too ! young for most children to follow a story, so I wouldn't expect him to sit still for that as you read to him. Picture books are great, so you can keep doing that, asking him to show you things in the book, flipping through it, etc. . . don't focus too much on the idea of ''reading'' as much as the idea of having fun with books. There are simple picture books designed around themes, so you can pick a theme that he's interested in (animals, trucks, whatever). Or, if such books seem too simplistic, go with something like the Richard Scarry books, which are chock full of things to look at. Build it in to the routine, like with bedtime or pre-naptime stories, at a time when he'll be less active, and more wanting to snuggle up with you anyway. Go to the library and let him explore the kids' section. Make sure he sees you reading. And enjoy! Anne

Interactive books are great: touch-and-feel ones, or ones that make sounds, even pop-ups. Add a lot of suspense and drama to your telling of the story. Try singing stories (this old man, there was an old lady who swallowed a fly, etc.)Edit down the text, you can make the stories very simple to start with, then gradually add back the more complete text with repeated readings. Read mostly when he's worn out and tired and happy to rest on your lap. And mostly very simple board books. And keep trying... without ever making it into an activity to resist. Suzanne

First, find books that appeal to him. Maybe take him to a bookstore and get the books he picks up and plays with. There's a great bookstore with a great kids section in Orinda Village ( north of the fwy).They have low racks so the kids can see the books. Then find a nice quite time during the day, maybe a time when you cuddle him or rock him and enjoy closeness.

Then put out the books and let him choose one. Let him do it all, choose the book, turn the pages, point at what he likes, close the book when he's done. I don't read the text to my daughter. I comment on what she's pointing at,mostly by naming things for her like ''that's a birdie''. When she closes the book I say ''the end'' and let her look thru the rest of the books to find another to look at.Sometimes she looks for 30 seconds sometimes for 5 minutes. It depends.

After she gest to know a book, I sometimes say ''where's the X'' when she opens a page with something of interest on it. This lets her look for it and show me that she knows her words. A great book for this is Goodnight Moon which has kitties and a mousie to look for on nearly every page.

I read with her daily.Don't make it a struggle. Let him ''drive.'' I don't have a boy so I'm not sure of this but you might also try some of the books with wheels on them ( they really roll like a car). They have topics like trucks and construction trucks and stuff) That might be of interest ot him. My daughter likes them and we got them used from a posting on this network. Good luck JM

My boy is very active too, and I've been trying to introduce him to reading for many months now. At 20 months now, he has settled down quite a bit, so your child may just grow into it, but I would suggest trying some different books. My boy is particularly enchanted by books that have little flaps to look under as you read the story. It really engages him in the whole experience. Also, for some reason, he is more likely to sit still with his dad for stories than with his mom, so you might give dad a try and see if he fares any better. Also - sometimes my son wants to read the pages out of order, and that's okay too. Sometimes he is happier talking about the pictures on the pages than actually reading the story. I think it's good to be flexible in this regard.

Don't waste time worrying that you didn't start ''soon ! enough'', just hang in there and you are bound to see some progress. Mom of active child

Whatever you do, don't make reading boring, or a chore, or something he ''has to pay attention to.'' That will surely spoil it! My advice is don't worry. I was a bit concerned when my son as a baby and small toddler didn't pay attention to books for more than a page or so. But he loves books now at 3 and a half, and we even read chapter books with no pictures already at bedtime. So my advice is to just keep reading to him and exposing him to books. It doesn't matter that he only pays attention for 5 seconds. Let him pay attention for 5 seconds, and then go on to something else if he doesn't come back in a minute or two. We had the best times with picture books during bathtime (with a few good rubber books to ''read'' over and over) and after pajamas we! re on in bed for nighttime reading (he had a little less energy to zoom off then). kb

With an established routine and some tips, your child will soon be demanding that you read with him. He'll soon realize shared reading is one of the easiest ways to command your attention. You can find family literacy tips on the internet (e.g., but a visit to your local public library's children's librarian may be the most straightforward approach. He or she can see how you read and interact with your son, and offer constructive tips - and good books to start! A librarian (of course)

Just wait. He's just not ready yet. He will be one day. Give it a month, take a book out again and read to him and see how he does then. Still not inter! ested? Wait another month. Continue to keep books around; have him see you reading; you might try reading (even just 1 or 2 pages) at bedtime when it's quiet and cozy. (You may already be doing this), but if he's a hi-energy child, don't try to get him to read when he's zooming around. Choose a more quiet time when he might be able to focus better. I had a friend who used to read to her son while he was in the bath in the evening! I have a 13 yo daughter and 9 yo son. They both love reading now, and I still read every nite to the boy (she reads on her own), but he was definitely not as interested as a baby as his sister was. Boys are wired differently and have different priorities (at most points in their lives), it seems to me. At 17 mo your son is probably much more interested in how the world works, but he'll get into reading (and writing) when he sees a need for it. (As a matter of fact, I think my son first got interested in reading words when he realized that they had an impact on all the vehicles he was so crazy about -- road signs, words on trucks, etc.) My daughter knew the alphabet by 2 1/2 yo, was writing (with spelling assistance) little love notes to the family at 4 (yes, it was very sweet)...her brother didn't even really know the whole alphabet (nor how to write the letters) until mid way thru kindergarten. He is now an excell! ent reader --has been for years -- and still absolutely adores a significant amount of visual and physical stimulation (cuz he's a boy and he always will be).

FYI: There is lots of really fascinating new research about brain development out there these days, but one thing I read awhile ago said that the part of the brain that is responsible for reading/writing/lang development isn't fully ready to ''work'' (isn't fully myelinated, technically speaking) in a boy until about age 7 (for girls it's age 4). In contrast, the spacial acuity part of the brain is ready to go in boys much earlier than in girls. So there ya go. Just enjoy your son where he's at for the moment, try things gently, and trust your instincts. Good luck. nasuse

My oldest son was just to busy being active to stop and do much reading; but he's 9 years now and loves reading and being read to. Just keep offering books and it will happen. jen

This is a response to the mother of an active 17-month old who didn't want to be read to. My son was initially too active to read to except when he was nursing and sleepy. Even now - he's five - we normally only read to him at bedtime, or at potty time. I started with one or two very short books with lots of pictures of things that interested him - trucks, trains, and construction equipment, and worked our way up to five or ten books per night. I figure one way to instill a love of reading is to make it a cozy and happy time, like it was for me as a child. I want him to like the library so I let him son pick out what he wants, which is mostly videos, and one or two books. I pick out 5-10 books he might like. My husband doesn't read much for pleasure, so I am not taking for granted that my son will have a love of reading unless I cultivate it. (My kid only occasionally looks at picture books wh! en not being read to, so I wouldn't expect that with your 17-month-old.) Carolyn

13 month old book mania

June 2004

I don't really have a problem, I would just like some advice. My 13 month-old daughter is crazy for books, to put it mildly. She spends hours (literally) paging through books. Sometimes she ''reads'' them to herself, saying the words that she knows (duck, frog, cheese, etc.) Sometimes she just turns the pages rapidly. When she wakes up in the morning and I go in to get her, she doesn't say ''mama,'' she says ''book,'' and she wants to run over to her bookshelf for a joyful reunion. If we are in an environment in which there are no books (at a park, for example), my daughter is very interested in playing on the slide, running around, etc. However, if she were to see a book while playing, she would stop and immediately switch over to book mode. I am pleased that my daughter shows a strong interest in reading and books, but I am wondering if this is normal behavior, or if I should make a stronger attempt to supplement her book mania with other toys? She does have plenty of other things to do in her room, but remains uninterested in any activity but books. Her book mania took hold at around 10 months and shows no signs of stopping at 14 months. I am a first-time mom and I don't know what, if anything, I should do about this. I guess I just want to know if there is anyone else out there whose child went through the same phase, and what happened in the end. Baby Bookworm has me Baffled

Wow, what an interesting little person you have! I say relax, she's showing a strong interest very early, and one that will only be positive for her in the future. Both my sons showed _very_ early and strong interest in, what else? trucks. Not necessarily the obsession I would've chosen for them, but there it is. Their interests expand, though, so please don't fret.

Worrying about what's ''normal'' can drive a poor parent crazy. Enjoy your child, encourage her interests, and don't worry about what other kids are doing. DL

Please don't worry about your daughter's book mania yet. There are much worse things she could be into. I was the exact same way when I was a wee one. If there was something to read, I was happy. The nice thing is, I could read when I was in preschool b/c I was so into it. I read Charlotte's Web in kindergarten. And I am *still* a bookworm. I have 21 books checked out from the library at the moment. =)

If I got in big trouble my parents would send me to my room. They quickly learned that was no punishment at all as I would be content to just sit and read. So eventually my punishment was to have all my books taken away for the afternoon. I still laugh about it. The mania part of it may just be a phase, but you may have yourself a life-long bookworm and insatiable learner! enjoy your little bookworm

Dear Baby Bookworm -- I could have written your post. My daughter is 14 months going on 15 and has not stopped her book mania either. I'm not worried about it, actually I think it's very positive. My daughter also would be uninterested in other activities. When she's on her own, she always go to her books and ''reads'' them to herself endlessly. What I try to do is when I think she's been into them for too long, I will instigate a game or we'll go outside or I'll play with her doing something else besides reading. We do read before bed as well and she likes to sit and read together as well as read on her own. As for what else might be helpful instead, at least for my daughter, the latest 'toy' she's caught onto is playing with a baby doll. She's doing so many things herself now like kissing & hugging and patty cake and waving bye bye. We do all these things with the dolly too. It intrigues her that the 'baby' can do it too. Maybe your daughter would enjoy this too? Unless the 'problem'(?) is getting in the way of her social development or hurting her, I don't think you need to be worried. This book 'phase' has not ended with my daughter yet. I also think that since they are such sponges right now, books are their introduction to hundreds of other words, actions, etc, that it's one of the only ways you could possibly 'give' them all these experiences so that they can take it all in and begin to understand all of the things in the world around them. I truly hope that the books will be a lifetime love. I guess I didn't really have too much advice, just sharing with you. Feel free to email. Renee

My daughter is the same way -- she loves books, and has from a very early age. She is now 3.75 years old and has lots of interests and still loves books. She's really reading them now! I delight in it and encourage you not to worry. Your baby will diversify. xinesinnott

Welcome to the club! My daughter started sounding out letters at 2, reading actual words at 3, and putting the whole thing together at 4, so that now, at 5, she is rabidly consuming chapter books like ''Pippi Longstocking,'' and ''Charlotte's Web'' on her own. Books are her one true love -- even at Christmas, everything stopped when she got a book for a present and had to read the whole thing then and there.

There are a few things that we have to pay attention to: 1) there are times when we think reading is not appropriate (at the table, in certain social situations, if we're in a hurry getting out of the house, etc.), and it can be a struggle to get her to stop reading when she needs to; 2) she sometimes uses books as an escape from difficult or challenging situations, so we need to help her learn how to deal with them in more effective ways, 3) schools are not always equipped to deal with advanced readers, other than giving them harder books or isolating them from group reading time, so it's important to make sure you ask about how a potential school will deal with the situation, and that you like their answer; and 4) while my daughter's reading skill is very advanced, her comprehension is still that of a 5-year-old, which means that some of the older-kid boooks which she could read are filled with situations and language which are hard for her to understand or to process, so it can be a challenge to find appropriate reading material.

In general, though, we're having a great time reading all kinds of wonderful things with our daughter and opening her up to books that we thought she wouldn't be ready for for years. We read poetry together (adult, as well as children's), too, which she loves, and we write stories and make books, to build on her interest. My only regret is that she's no longer enchanted with picture books, which I love. But I can always read them on my own...

Enjoy your budding reader -- it really is a lot of fun. Lauren

I agree, this is not a problem. My daughter (now 3) and my son (now 1) both ''putter'' with their books. She is now reading to herself, and to her brother, and he enjoys books on his own, and when someone is reading to him. They also play with people and toys when not at home with their books. Sometimes they ''play toys'' at home, too. For what it's worth, I am still a book ''maniac:'' I always have a novel or something going, read when I brush my teeth, during tv commercials, while drying my hair, while eating breakfast... In my experience, this is ''normal.'' I love books!

My 21-month-old has always loved books. I think it's great. I mean, why shouldn't he be that way: that's what he sees me doing when I am relaxing . He now can recognize a lot of letters and numbers, and points them out to me as we read - I'm not pushing it, but I have a feeling he'll learn to read by himself really early. He also has favorites that he asks for by name (and has for months).

We keep books for him in every room, by the crib, by the changing table, in the car, etc. We have sought out books about things that he's shown interest in (or that we want him to get more interested in, like the potty and toothbrushing). He's happy to play with other things but always will prefer a book. As he's gotten older he has become more interested in other appropriate play (imitating us, using crayons, etc). I say, encourage it as much as possible and trust your daughter to follow her interests. Jen

Ha ha -- we should introduce yours to mine, they could read at each other!

Mine is now 15 months old and loves books and turns up her nose at stuffed animals...trucks and plastic thingers occupy her for a couple minutes, but books are much better. A couple of months ago, she woke up from a nap, saw her book, snuggled up with it, and went back to sleep.

Of course, this all seems rather enchanting to me, because I've always been the same way...GRIN....

Some folks may write back and freak you out about compulsive disorders and Asperger's and stuff, but I'd suspect your kid is just really, really into books -- and that's cool, and really probably a good thing! Sara

my son is very similar! when waking up, i lift him from the crib and he says ''book''. he is almost two and has been like this for a long time. but, he also adores balls and his little pool and lots of other things. he generally only wants to read with me, not by himself. he is talking a lot and knows tons of words and already can say his abc's and knows colors and numbers. i really think his interest in books has been wonderful. radicchio

Picture books about starting daycare

Sept 2003

Has anyone tired to prepare his child for daycare or preschool using picture books? I am wondering if a child would make that connection, and I am looking for good picture books on the topic (any suggestions?) It seems to help children with weaning, potty training etc., so I thought maybe also for easing the transition to daycare or preschool. Our daugher will probably start around 18 months, after being cared for by us and friends who also have babies, that is mainly in a small group situation. Thanks, Julia

I used one of the ''Spot goes to school'' books to help my daughter get ready for school. It has simple pictures and themes and generates discussion regarding school in simple terms. My daughter likes the Spot character and has made a painless transition to preschool in the last few weeks. We also visited the school one to two days a week before the school year started and had play dates with some of the kids that will be attending. dawn

I found a book that my son loved through the transition to daycare and beyond. It is a paperback called Benjamin Comes Back, published by Redleaf Press. It is bilingual English/Spanish, so it looks like it has a lot of words when you flip thru it, but it really reads well. Reading Mama

Books about feelings for toddler

March 2000

I've been looking for a good, fun book that introduces a range of feelings (beyond sad, glad, mad) in an engaging way for a toddler/young preschooler. Just great pictures would be fine, but a fabulous story line would be even better. Oddly, the bookstores haven't been helpful. Has anyone found something like this? Thanks!

I just got a recommendation from a friend for my 2.6 year old called "My Many-Colored Days" by Dr. Seuss. I haven't seen it yet, but she read exerpts and it sounds lovely. I don't know how far beyond sad mad glad it goes, though. Laura

We really enjoy the book "My Many Colored Days" by Dr. Seuss. The book came out after his death and was not illustrated by him, so don't expect the same Seuss-like pictures. Instead, there are brightly colored, non-race-specific drawings of people and animals. There are a wide range of feelings and moods expressed, and while there isn't really a storyline, there are some great Seuss rhymes. Comes in board book and "real" (as we call it) versions. heather

Today I Feel Silly by Jamie Lee Curtis covers a range of different feelings each accompanied by wonderful illustrations. Shy Charles by Rosemary Wells is a great book about shyness as the title suggests. Kathy

Good picture books for 20-month old?

March 1998

I have a hard time finding good books for our 20-month old daughter, and I am looking for suggestions. My requirements are:
- entertaining for the adults
- good graphics, little text

Some of the books I particularly like are:
- We're Going On A Bear Hunt, by Rosen/Oxenbury
- most of the Boynton Board Books, by Boynton, such as: The Going To Bed Book, But Not The Hippopotamus, Blue Hat, Green Hat.
- Where The Wild Things Are, by Sendak Thank you ---Luigi

One book that my husband's boss gave us as a present, which we all love (parents and kids), is called _Good_Night,_Gorilla_, by Peggy Rathmann. It was a year before we stopped finding new subtleties, which I won't catalog here. The text is extremely simple and the illustration is beautiful. Also, have you asked the children's librarian at the public library? Joyce

The first book on the list is my daughter's and my favorite book. My mom teaches first grade and says even her first graders still enjoy the book because they like thinking about how they were as 'babies'. All of these books pass my 'read it again mommy' test although The Very Hungry Catepiller might need to be retired soon.
"More More More," Said the Baby Vera B. Williams
My Very First Mother Goose Iona Opie
Katy Cat and Beaky Boo Lusy Cousins
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Bill Martin Jr.
Ten, Nine, Eight Molly Bang
The Snowy Day Erza Jack Keats
Goodnight Moon Margaret Wise Brown
The Very Hungry Catepiller Eric Carle
The Very Busy Spider Eric Carle

- A Hole is to Dig, written by Ruth Krauss and illustrated by Maurice Sendak
- Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson
- Good Night, Gorilla (the only text is along the lines of, Good Night Gorilla, Good Night Giraffe, Good Night Armadillo, etc. The illustrations tell the story.)
- a board book called something like, There's an Elephant in Your Kitchen, which cracks my daughter up every time we read it

From: Dianna (3/98)

Dr. Suess and his cohort of writer, Theo LeSieg, et al. are good for this age. I can particularly recommend "Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?" I had to read this over and over again to my son when he was one and a half. Also,
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
Fox in Sox (only if you are good with tongue twisters)
The Foot Book
The Hair Book
The Nose Book