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Using stories to help your toddler learn language

​​​​​How can I use storybooks with my child?

Language is how we use words or gestures to communicate with each other. Books, reading, and telling stories play an important part in helping your child learn language. Telling stories can help your child build speaking and listening skills.

Your child is never too young to enjoy books. You can start reading and telling stories to them right after they’re born. Your child will more likely have a life-long love for reading if they look at and play with books from an early age.

​​​​​How can I use books to help my toddler learn language?

There are many ways for you and your toddler to have fun with books. Here are some suggestions:

  • Read books with simple, bright colored pictures.
  • Read books that your child can play with. Young children enjoy bo​​oks that let them participate such as lift-the-flap books, pop up books, finger plays, books with things to feel, and books that make sounds.
  • Let your child choose the book and turn to the pages they want to look at. You can read or talk about the pages they choose. This helps keep their interest. Children learn best when they’re interested.
  • Name things, people, and actions in the pictures. Give your child time to talk about the pictures.
  • Let your child hold the book and turn the pages. This helps teach your child how handle a book.
  • Tell the story in a way your child will understand. You don’t have to read it exactly as it’s written. For very young children, you can simply talk about each page with single words or short sentences.
  • Tell the story together. Take turns flipping the pages and talking about the pictures on the page. By taking turns, children learn an important skill they need to carry on conversations.
  • Read a book or tell a story ​many times so your child gets to know the story well. This lets your child help in the storytelling. One way to involve your child is to start a sentence and let your child finish it (e.g., “Once upon a time, there lived 3 _________.”)

Where can I find books for my child?

The library has lots of great books for your toddler. You can often get great bargains on used kid’s books at thrift shops, garage sales, and the library discard shelves. You can also trade books with other families.​

Where to go get help

For more information about how speech-language pathologists and audiologists can help, contact:

  • Your doctor, public health nurse, or other health provider
  • Your local health centre​​​

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