We all know that reading to your toddler is vital for vocabulary development, early literacy skills, and bonding with caregivers. Sometimes it is easy to collect a bunch of books that just sit on your shelves.
In many instances, fewer books on your child’s bookshelves mean more reading.
Fewer Books = More Reading
As a former kindergarten teacher and Reading specialist, now a stay-at-home mom to three little ones, I am here today to give you some practical tips for choosing the best books for your toddler, paring down your book collection, and displaying books for the highest readability.
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Selecting, Limiting, and Displaying Books for Toddlers
Selecting Books for Your Toddler.
Choose books with colors, textures, and movable parts. Toddlers love books with bright colors, varying textures, and parts that move. The Peek-a-Boo Book is my toddler’s favorite. On each page, he gets to peek-a-boo the baby by lifting the flap. The extra fun part is that the baby is him!
Think about the books you already own. When purchasing books for your child, first consider the books you already have. If you already have one book called “That’s Not My Dinosaur,” then you may not need the book “That’s Not My Puppy.” Unless that happens to be your child’s absolute favorite book and you think they may enjoy another similar book. If you already have 10 butterfly books, then you may want to consider a book about birds.
That’s Not My Truck was my middle child’s favorite book.
We made book-inspired wall art for his room. Pictures here.
Choose books that include your child’s interests. When buying books, I think about the interests of my family and the variety of books that I would enjoy reading to my child. If your child enjoys playing with a ball, then consider selecting a book about balls. We want our children to make and learn about art, so we have included books in the Touch the Art
series in our collection. These books combine textures with a topic we are passionate about in an age-appropriate way. Who wouldn’t want to “touch a pyramid?”
Diversify your bookshelf. Select a well-rounded variety of books for your child. Keep in mind the diversity of topics and types of books. If 90% of your current collection is all rhyming board books, you may consider adding in some non-fiction text like magazines like Animal Babies or, and books in another language.
- Tips for reading with an activity baby or toddler.
- Read more about toddler literacy development here
- Tips for Building a Diverse Bookshelf
2. Limiting Book Choices for Your Toddler
Remove books from your collection.
If you are a bookaholic like me, chances are you have collected too many books. Once a month, we take a look at our collection and try to pare it down. Remove the books that you are not currently reading to your child. If you have read a book 5+ times and you or your child do not enjoy it in any way – it is time to remove that book from your collection.
Donate Gently Used Books.
Consider donating gently used books your child has outgrown to daycares serving children in need or doctor’s offices. Often, if I know the books are going to children who may not otherwise have as many book options, I am more willing to part with them. Call ahead of time to ask if they accept books and what kind of books they are in need of. A donation is only good if there is a need.
Always keep your child’s favorite book, no matter the shape it is in!
Either that or purchase a 2nd copy!
Put half away for book rotation.
For the books you keep – divide your collection in half and put them in a bag or storage container. These books will be used for what we call, “book rotation.” Meaning, in a few weeks, we will bring these books out for display and the other half will be put in the storage container.
We rotate toys too! See our playroom here.
3. Displaying Fewer Books for Your Toddler
Now that you have selected the books that you feel would be of high interest to you and your child, it is time to find the best way to display them. The traditional sideways shelves are not always the best for a toddler.
- Do choose a forward-facing bookshelf if possible. Make sure the shelf is accessible to your child and fill it with books from your home library. The Sling Bookshelf is the most affordable pre-made option, but the canvas does get dirty from use and needs washing once a year.
The Wooden Book Display is a little more money, but sturdier and easy to wipe clean. My husband made ours with plywood.
- Select toddler friendly books that you feel comfortable letting them select and read on their own. Save pop-up books and treasured picture books for special reading times with an adult.
- Consider using Storage Bins and baskets for small book collections. Think about the places where you may read to your child and put a bin there. We have a small basket by our rocking chair and another beside the couch. You may want to put small collections in different rooms around your house.
- Don’t overfill baskets and bookshelves. Typically, less than 8 per basket and less than 20 per large bookshelf is what works for us.
Hopefully, by selecting the right books for your child, limiting your collection, and displaying a few books in a kid-friendly way, will encourage even more reading.
Fewer books = More reading!
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