Read books with rich illustrations
The least helpful types of books for children under age 5: ones with simple photos—not illustrations—and minimal text. Compared with illustrated books, these don’t trigger as many conversation starters, which are critical to child development, says Michele Morrison, director of Training and Program Support at the Parent-Child Home Program, a non-profit that helps low-income families build early parent-child verbal interaction and learning at home. (The Reader’s Digest Foundation supports the Parent-Child Home Program). Don’t miss these classic children’s book quotes every adult needs to hear again.
Ask questions based on the illustrations
Children between 16 and 24 months add more words to their vocabularies on a daily basis than they do at any other age, says Morrison. The first and easiest words to learn and label from book illustrations are nouns like “dog” and “tree,” she says. If you see a picture of a dog, ask your toddler or preschooler such questions as “Do you see the dog?” “What color is the dog?” “What is the dog doing?” This base knowledge of nouns helps children add the other parts of speech more quickly. Soon, “dog” will turn into “Brown dog,” and then “Brown dog runs.” Check out these amazing ways babies and toddlers are way smarter than you think.