Setting up a dedicated reading space with a few reality-based books with beautiful illustrations is an easy way you can prepare your home to encourage your toddler’s interest in books and get ready for learning to read.
Your toddler’s reading nook can be as simple as one or two wall shelves that are low to the floor, and a floor pillow to make the space inviting and cozy.
While it may be cool to convert an entire closet or a large corner of the playroom into a reading space, or set up a reading space inside a cloth tent, it's totally not necessary.
Try not to get sidetracked with a complicated DIY bookshelf project that you find on Pinterest. Done is better than perfect!
A couple of access points in your home is ideal, especially since you'll be setting out only a few books at a time and putting the rest in storage.
A couple of shelves attached to the side of a dresser, or a longer wall shelf placed under a window, won't take much time or money to set up. The goal is to create a minimalist yet cozy space where your toddler can focus.
Your toddler needs to be able to reach all of the books and return them to the shelf independently.
Be prepared to install the wall shelves much lower to the floor than you might expect. For a toddler, the shelf may only be 8-10 inches above the floor! As your child grows, simply add another shelf or move the lower shelf up.
In each reading nook, the shelves will hold just 5-7 books with the covers facing forward. To keep the bookshelf fresh, swap out books as your child's interests change or after trips to the local library.
A spice rack from IKEA is inexpensive and can be stained or painted to coordinate with your decor. A clear acrylic wall shelf is an option that allows the entire front cover of each book to be visible.
If you think the reading area looks too plain, you could add an alphabet poster. This alphabet poster features beautiful watercolor illustrations to represent words starting with each letter sound. It’s an easy way to indirectly prepare your toddler for learning alphabet phonics.
Just as with toys, too many books can be very overwhelming to children. Less is more, even for books! By limiting the quantity of books available, you're making it easy for your toddler to choose a book to explore.
You're also setting your toddler up for success with handling books gently and keeping the reading space tidy. No more rummaging through a large book bin or basket, pulling out random books to see the front cover and tossing unwanted books aside to get stepped on!
As you consider which books to keep and which ones to donate, always keep in mind that your toddler is in the process of figuring out how the world works.Keep only beautifully illustrated books that are reality-based. Books that feature fairies, talking animals and commercial characters confuse young children because they are not developmentally ready to distinguish between reality and fantasy.
Stories about everyday family life are ideal for toddlers. Offer beautifully illustrated books that inspire conversation. Board books with real images of objects are great for enriching your toddler's vocabulary. Check out these lists of books for toddlers and preschoolers, or ask the librarian at your local library for some book recommendations.
Your toddler will absorb the process of choosing a book, handling the book gently, sitting to look at the book, turning the page only after the period of focus is complete and returning the book to the shelf.