How many books should I read to my toddler a day? I get this question a lot from parents. The rule of thumb is to read for at least 15 minutes a day. Because books vary in length, there isn’t a magic number for the number of books you need to read to your toddler.
You know the saying, quality over quantity? That applies to reading too! Going by how many minutes to read a day instead of how many books is a better gauge. The quality of the reading time matters. Quality of reading does not mean choosing the perfect book, but the engagement during reading. Are you pointing out things in the picture, making predictions, talking about the story, or relating it back to your toddler’s experiences? Engagement during reading helps toddlers build vocabulary, comprehension, and expands their world to new ideas.
I mentioned before that a quality book doesn’t mean the best book – because every person has their own preference, including our toddlers! The best books to read to your toddler are about topics they are interested in (e.g., dinosaurs, cars, trains). If you are looking for new books to add to your collection, you can never go wrong with classics that have stood the test of time. You’ll know they are interested in the book when they ask to read books over and over again. If you read their favorite book repeatedly every day for at least 15 minutes a day, you are already on a roll!
For a starter list of popular children’s classics, look for these books in your local library or at the book store:
Reading bilingual books to preschoolers has many benefits. Raising multilingual children as a parent not familiar with a second language is quite difficult. Not to mention if you’re not fluent in both languages, it becomes more difficult. In either case, starting early will benefit you and the child greatly. By creating an environment of speaking a different language at home while they learn English at school, your child will naturally learn both languages. For this reason, I made a list of children’s bilingual books for preschoolers to help you get started.
Benefits of reading bilingual books aloud to babies, toddlers, and preschoolers
Helps young chidren with learning new vocabulary by expanding their vocabulary through books
Exposes children to new and different cultural backgrounds
Helps connect with family culture and traditions for 2nd and 3rd generation learners
Encourages learning new language at home for both the parent and child
Helps develop cognitive thinking skills and enhances memory
Will my child learn English if I speak another language?
Worrying if your child will speak English is a common fear bilingual parents and immigrant parents have. But, I have great news! Your child is 100% capable of learning both English and other languages. Assuming you’re in an English-speaking country, once your child starts going to school, they will easily pick up English.
If you are fluent in another language, your child is already at a significant advantage. Only speak to your child in another language and they will be fluent in no time. If you’re not convinced, use my experience as one case study.
I immigrated to the U.S. when I was 6 years old. English was my second language and I primarily spoke Mandarin. My mom was afraid I wouldn’t pick up English and struggle in school. As a result, she only spoke in English with me. I only had to take ESL for one year and I was fluent in English. As an adult now, I always joke that my Mandarin proficiency is that of a 6-year-old since that’s the last time I was fully immersed in the language.
Here’s another example. I lived near my oldest son’s paternal grandparents for the first five years of his life. His grandpa only spoke to him in Mandarin since he was born and still do so till this day. He’s now way more fluent than I am in Mandarin.
Bilingual Books for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers
Let’s Clean Up has text in Korean, English, and Romanized Korean, making it easy to read. With bright imagery, hand-drawn illustrations, and simple dialogue, it’s enjoyable for both parents and little learners to enjoy together.
Author and Illustrator, Katie, created this book because she wanted to expose her child to the Korean language. She couldn’t find a book for a non-Korean speaking parent to read, so she created her own!
Hajimete Zukan 415 Picture Book / Japanese-English By Shogakukan Inc.
All in all, the 415 photos in this bilingual book introduce all sorts of fascinating things from animals to vehicles. With text in English and Japanese, this book is a great way for kids to learn vocabulary in both languages.
Little learners can also hear the English and Japanese pronunciations of every word via smartphone.
Do you have bilingual books for preschoolers you’d like to share with our community? Let me know in the comments below or send me a message!
How about changing up your bedtime story with Japanese folktales? ‘Folk Tales From Japan: Fables, Myths, and Fairy Tales for Children‘ by Florence Sakade and illustrated by Yoshio Hayashi is a great book to start diving into eastern stories. All the stories are easy to understand for preschoolers and young kids.
Folktakes From Japan: Fables, Myths and Fairy Tales for Children By Florence Sakade, Illustrated by Toshio Hayashi
16 Japanese stories for kids! It includes “The Princess and the Herdboy” explaining the origins of the Tanabata Festival and “Urashima Taro” one of the most popular folktales in Japan.
Suki’s Kimono By Chieri Uegaki and Stephane Jorisch
Suki’s Kimono is a great story for teaching how to respect others’ differences and introducing their culture to classmates. The book is about Suki who shares her story in class, what she did during her break, and shares about the festival she took part in.
The story also shows the mean treatment she received from students and how Suki handled the situation. Since many students will be going back to school, it’s never too early to start teaching children how to share their culture and appreciate others.
You can find more activities for this book by clicking here.
This classic Japanese fairy tale tells the story of Issun Boshi, the tiny son of an old, long childless couple. His mother had longed to have a child for so many years that she finally added “even if it is a very small one” to her wish. When the elderly couple did in fact bear a son, he turned out to be only one inch high. He was thus called Issun Boshi, Japanese for one-inch boy. Although his parents raised him very lovingly, Issun Boshi realized one day that he would not grow any taller. He then left his home to set off on a journey to find his place in the world.
Once Upon a Time in Japan Translated by Roger Pulvers and Juliet Carpenter
The tales in this collection are brilliantly illustrated by a different talented Japanese artist in each story. These retold stories have been shared countless times in Japanese homes and schools for generations. Like good stories from every time and place, they never grow old. Kids (and their parents!) will enjoy hearing these stories read aloud on the accompanying CD.
Yuki In The Snow By Y.K. Maple, Illustrated by Lilla Vincze
Yuki is a little girl who moved to Japan from Hawaii. This is the story of her first experience with snow and the significance of her name. The book illustrates Japanese culture to the children in the world and introduce Japanese children to English-speaking cultures.
Also, if buying a new book isn’t in your budget right now, check out this website that has a collection of Japanese folktales. You can read these from your smartphone or tablet, pick one from the list, and then click “next” to begin. There’s a collection of 19 stories here for FREE. I highly recommend reading “Kaguya Hime” and “Tanabata”.
They’re many more Japanese stories for kids but that’s all for today!
Choosing the right books for toddlers and preschoolers is essential. Books are living documents that can open up your child’s world to new ideas he has yet to discover. However, not all children’s books are created equal.
There are books that contain ideas that are counterproductive to the ideas we are trying to expose them to. When selecting books, make it a good habit to preview them before reading them to your child. Here are some tips for selecting books for 2 to 5-year-olds and why they are important.
Are the illustrations rich with details and provide more context beyond the text?
There were books I chose from the library I thought my child would love. Then he rejected it because he didn’t like how the pictures looked. The art was dark and monotone, and it did not appeal to him.
In hindsight, of course, the pictures matter. In my child’s mind, that’s the only thing that matters because he can’t read yet. The closest interaction he has with the book is the illustrations. My reading the story out loud is like reading a closed caption on a movie. The pictures are what brings the story to life.
Illustrations in books provide a natural transition to broader topics that you and your child can further explore. If your child has a favorite book, create extension activities around the book’s theme and characters to develop cognitive and social-emotional skills.
In short, select books for toddlers or preschoolers with bright illustrations you know your child loves. You will know the pictures are on point when your child asks you not to flip the page yet because they’re still analyzing the page! Click here for more detail on how to use pictures during a reading session.
Is the story written well using proper grammar and sentence structure?
There are many benefits of reading aloud to young children. When selecting books for toddlers or preschoolers, one goal is to expose them to the English language and to plant new ideas in their minds. Unless your child is under 2 or has entered the emergent reader stage, avoid books that have short or incomplete sentences, misuse grammar, and/or contain “baby talk”.
Reading aloud is so important because you are exposing your child to your language to build fluency which is the foundation to early literacy skills.
Are the books for your preschooler sending the right message?
I think it’s worth mentioning again that our children’s minds are like sponges during the early childhood years. The brain is extremely busy and very good at taking in information, categorizing, and making sense of new ideas. This also means that they learn fast and can easily be influenced by new ideas.
Select books that have ideas that promote healthy habits and positive self-concepts you want your child to model. Books play such an essential role in shaping their view of themselves and the outside world. Books to children are similar to reality shows and sitcoms we watch on TV as grownups. They are meant to be a snapshot and a glimpse into our society and culture. We are influenced by what we watch and young children are influenced by the storylines we expose to them in picture books.
How to tell if it’s the wrong books for preschoolers.
Before my preschooler started soccer classes, we wanted to introduce him to the game and give him some background knowledge on what to expect. At the library, I found a picture book with fun illustrations. The pictures were bright, cheery, and fun. I made the mistake of not previewing the text and I began reading the story right at the library. I was one-third of the way through before I stopped reading.
My son asked me to continue reading and I had to make something up on the fly. I did this because there were several scenarios in the story where the main character would do something I did not want him to model. I was displeased the author didn’t end the story with the character righting the wrongs. Plus, it didn’t really teach anything about playing soccer, despite the soccer setting.
I know every child is different. Knowing my child, I knew if I kept going, I’d be planting mischievous ideas for my rambunctious preschooler to do when playing soccer. It’s like when you remind a child not to do something, all of a sudden, it’s something they have to do.
Overview: Selecting Good Books for Toddlers and Preschoolers
In summary, to select good books for toddlers and preschoolers, keep the following in mind while previewing books:
Look for books with rich illustrations your child will enjoy looking at.
Preview the book and look for a well written story with an exciting plot and rich in vocabluary with words new and known words.
Notice stories with values and principles that align with your family’s and avoid those that do not.