Teaching a Toddler How to Read

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been trying to teach Gavin to read.  In addition to the “Your Baby Can Read” DVDs, I’ve also bought some simple “learn to read” style of books for him to practice with.  Naturally, when I discovered that there were “Step into Reading” titles under Thomas and Friends, I bought them without a second thought.

There are eight Thomas and Friends titles under the “Step into Reading” series, but I could only find the following two at Borders:

Thomas Goes Fishing


And Henry and the Elephant.


With Gavin’s laser-pointed interest in Thomas and Friends, I thought he would learn to read in the wink of an eye.  After all, it was through his keen interest in Thomas that he learned his alphabets, colours and numbers 1-10.

The books were an instant hit with Gavin.  He would often want to “read” them himself – although it was more like him flipping through the pages, looking at the pictures and making up a story to fit.  When he got bored of looking at the pictures, he would ask me to help him read the book.

Try as I might, he doesn’t pay much interest in the writing.  I find he’s often looking at the pictures when I read and when I try to prompt him, he recites the word from memory.  Nope, not the memory of having seen the word before, but the memory of having heard the word before.

Gavin’s got a pretty good recall for stories and songs that he likes.  He gets really interested in them and always wants to hear it over and over.  After a while, he’ll start to sing or recite the words from memory.  The same goes for other Thomas and Friends stories he has – even the longer stories written by Rev Awdry.

If he can remember the longer stories verbatim, then you can imagine that something as short and simple as this doesn’t pose much difficulty:


When I ask him to “read” the book, he can recite the words, but I know he’s not reading because his eyes are glued to the pictures.

In the meantime, it looks like we’re back to flash cards and word games on paper.  When I figure out a more effective method of teaching a toddler how to read, I’ll be back.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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