The single best thing you can do for your child’s cognitive development is to read-aloud with them. Research has found that reading-aloud even before children can speak, affects their development in vocabulary, writing skills, and early reading skills years later.
Some research points to effects of reading-aloud to children predicting performance on language tests in college!!
It isn’t just how much you read to your kids, but how you read with them. Involving them in the storytelling is key. This is something that can be done even with young toddlers.
Best Read-Aloud Books for Toddlers
These books are some of my favorites for reading-aloud with toddlers and I have included some examples of the prompting included in this article (and free printable!), How to Teach Your Child to Read According to Child Development Research
Once you get the hang of it, you can really do this technique with any toddler books. Even pre-verbal toddlers may point or gesture answers to your prompts.
Are all awesome books to get toddlers started on Completion prompts.
For example, you say “I see a ______” and your toddler says “yellow duck!” or points to the yellow duck on the next page. This happens after reading the book a few times. So, start the prompting the third or fourth time reading the book.
You can also use recall prompts, “Who is peeking next?”
And Connection (distancing) prompts “Did we see a brown bear at the zoo?/ Did we see a pig at the farm? Did he say la, la, la?”
There are simple narratives that are great for introducing What, Why, How prompts.
What happens next, what is the thingamabob, what train car is that, what color is that train car, where do you think the train is going, how do they use the thingamabob?
Again, with preverbal toddlers, they can answer by pointing or with babbling.
Both of these books work well for completion prompts as well.
Planes Go and all of the book in that series (Trains Go ,Trucks Go,Diggers Go, Boats Go)
These are so engaging for younger toddlers!
Each page is a brightly colored plane, a label, and a sound: “The propeller plane goes, “HUK HUK HUK WHIRRRRRRR WHIRRRRRR.”
These are great for asking a series of prompts: “What is that plane? What color is that plane? How does that plane go?
For a free printable and more about this method of engaging your child (which is proven to help children learn to read), check out: How to Teach Your Child to Read According to Child Development Research