With a background in Psychology and many years of working with children behind me, I knew full-well the importance of reading to young children before my first son was born. I began building his library when I was pregnant with many different kinds of books and continue to do so as he ages. He is now 2 1/2 years old and has, no doubt, chosen which books are his favorite, books that he tends to go back to time and time again. Here is a list of age-appropriate books that your older toddler is prone to enjoy.
Lift- the- Flap Books As a younger toddler, my son absolutely adored lift-the-flap books, but I had to keep it simple…a single large flap or two to each page worked well. He loved the surprise of finding pictures under these flaps and I imagine he also loved the fact that he was able to accomplish the lifting of the flaps on his own. Gosh, he’d even become upset with me if I attempted the flaps first! :) Now that he’s 2 1/2, he continues to adore lift-the-flap books, but the one’s he gravitates toward now are more age-appropriate. Gone are the one flap per page books, and in are the multiple smaller flaps per page. These books are not only a lot of fun for children to use, but they implement multiple area’s of development as well. You are undoubtedly working on stimulating language in your child as you tell them what they see under each flap or simply ask them “what’s that?” in anticipation of a response. Your child is also working on their fine motor development as they use their fingers to pry these smaller flaps open. You can even work on their cognitive memory skills in asking them where certain items have been hidden, encouraging them to lift the appropriate flap. Lift-the-flap books are an enormous hit in our household!
Manipulative Books Another hit in our household are books that you can manipulate. We have this one particular Usborne (a company that sells books in-home and online) book where my son is able to place a sturdy paper squirrel through a single slot on each page of the book as we read the storyline. I bought this book simply because a friend of his had it on a playdate and the children couldn’t get enough of it! What an ingenious way of getting children to enjoy books! Another example of a book that your child is able to manipulate is a simple book entitled What Will You Wear, Claude? written by David Wojtowycz. This is a simple board book that asks such questions as what will Claude wear when he goes running? My son then has to identify which outfit would best be suited for this type of activity from the sturdy cardboard outfits provided which are attatched to the book by ribbons. He is then able to insert an outift in a slot on the book’s page so that Claude is then “wearing” it. A great way to work on fine motor skills and understanding of which outfits are appropriate for specific activities.
Interactive Books Another great set of books for two year olds are books that you and your child can interact with together. A great example of such a book is Eric Carle’s From Head To Toe. We borrowed this book from the library and I have had to check it out time and time again because my son has such a great time with it. Here you are able to imitate the movements of various animals by shrugging your shoulders, arching your back, stomping your feet, etc. The imitations are simple enough to understand and my son thinks it’s just simply hilarious when I portray the movements in a silly manner. This is a great book to read during a playdate with other children as well…so wonderful to see all the children moving their bodies, imitating what they see in the book and following simple directions as well.
Although we read paperback books, most of the books that my son has immediate access to are board books. At 2 1/2 he’s still a bit too rough at times for me to bring down what I call our “keepsake” books. Pages may be ripped or creased. I know that board books are able to withstand his excited activity. We do, however, have some books with paper pages with a hard outer cover, such as various Dr. Seuss books. The pages have not been ripped but you can most definitely tell that the books have been loved. :)
When reading longer books to my son, such as the Dr. Seuss books mentioned above, I tend to skip out on the actual text and tell him what we see in the pictures or reduce the text to just some key words or phrases. This keeps it nice and short for his attention span and enables him to sit through the entire story (and many Dr. Seuss books can be mighty long for toddlers to sit through). If the book he has chosen happens to be a shorter story, I’ll go back and forth between reading him the actual text and telling him what I see in the pictures. I’ll even cut both those out and ask him what HE sees in the pictures to elicit an imaginative response.
I could not be more pleased with the fact that my son enjoys his books so much, but I imagine that has a lot to do with the variety of books that are at his disposle. Age-appropriate books that are fun to look at and read either by himself or with me.