How to grow the love of reading in toddlers

In collaboration with Tidy Books

I used to love reading as a child. It is a love that I want to transfer to my daughter as well and I have given a fair bit of thought on how to do this. Our philosophy around reading revolves a lot on encouragement and accessibility and I'll explain some key ideas we have used to grow the love of reading in our toddler. It is all about trying to foster that natural love of and fascination with books, and trying to nurture independent reading from a young age.

tidy books bookcase toddler reading

The power of example

There really isn't a much better motivator than seeing your parent read, and having your parent read to you. Alongside reading to her we also try to let her see us reading, whether it is books or magazines - kids love to imitate their parents!

When our daughter was a baby we religiously read her a bedtime story, every night. Once she got to the crawling state, she didn't have much patience so we had to stop. Instead we gave her touchy-feely books and flap books during the day so she would get used to the concept of books. 

We re-introduced story time when she was closer to two years of age. Now she loves it. We read her every night, and often, as we have some of her books lying around, she asks us to read some for her during the day too.

tidy books bookcase shelves

tidy books bookcase toddler reaching for books

toddler girl reading a book

Accessibility of books

There is no point having books and then keeping them out of reach. They should be easy to grab and placed at the child's level. Kids, no matter how young, should also be allowed to use their books independently. This will help kids become accustomed to books and help them become independent readers.

And when it comes to kids, they really do judge a book by its cover. Sort of. Kids find it easier to recognise their favourite books amongst many when they can see the covers rather than the spines. So if you can, do present at least some of them with their beautiful cover art visible. The books also should be easy to get hold of, even with plump little fingers, so no over-enthusiastic stacking or piling of books.

Independent reading casualties...

We have given our daughter the chance to "read" independently . This doesn't come without it's casualties.

We have had some unfortunate events, like books being ripped to shreds, and books being munched to pulp. Our daughter also went through a phase when everything made of paper was shredded.

Once we noticed she was developing an unwise fascination to cardboard and paper we limited her access to books to supervised visits only, ha ha. And of course we told her off. These phases mainly happened between 4 months and year and a half of age, and would last usually a few weeks. We have sadly lost a few books and used a lot of tape, but we think it was worth it. She is now very comfortable with books and happy to play with them. Little by little she has learned to respect her books.

The occasional accidental damage still happens - that's what kids are like. She loudly then demands 'Mummy fix it!'. Which I have done, sometimes the only way has been my credit card... 

Learning the letters

It is quite common for kids to get fascinated by letters at quite a young age, especially if you read to them regularly. It is definitely worth to spend a bit of extra time to nurture that interest and start teaching them letters. It will be a long time before they are ready to really read, but as long as they show an interest and motivation to learn you can start teaching letter recognition. This will also help them to get more excited about reading as they see the characters forming words and stories. 

We often take a long time to walk anywhere as we stop to spell out nearly every road sign. Just because she wants to, and I want to encourage learning letters in her. We often also spell letters out in book titles and in different pictures, and have managed to impress a fair few people in the supermarket...

You can practice letter recognition anywhere really, as long as it is fun. Our bookcase has the alphabet in wooden letters - oh how much fun we have had with spotting a's and b's all the way to the z's!

tidy books bookcase review

how to grow the love of reading in toddlers

tidy books bookcase shelf close-up

Our Tidy Books bookcase

We recently received a Tidy Books bookcase which has been designed with the same principles in mind. All the pictures on this post are from my daughters new bedroom where she has her own Tidy Books bookcase. 

We have really loved the Tidy Books bookcase - it is such a gorgeous addition into her room. I have particularly loved the visual aspect of the bookcase. I find that most children's books have utterly gorgeous illustrations, and it is just such a shame to hide them away. With the covers facing the room however, it is so easy to recognise the books and my daughter quickly finds exactly what she is looking for.

You can also fit surprisingly many books in the bookcase - ours has over 60 at the time, and depending on the size and width of the books, you could fit more if needed. You can flip through them quite easily and see the covers straight away.

The books are easy to take out too as they are on an open shelf, even with clumsy little hands. As my daughter is able to recognise the books by their covers, and take them out and put them back in by herself, she is getting acquainted with using books independently. This will also hopefully keep her room tidier over the long run! 

Overall, we have been incredibly happy with her new bookcase. It is slimline so fits in her small room well, and looks just beautiful.

how to nurture the love of reading in toddlers

How do you grow the love of reading with your kids? Any other tips?


  1. It's such an amazing thing reading how you foster reading with your little one. Working in schools I desperately wish more parents were like you and took the time to read with their child you can always tell the ones that read at home as they thoroughly enjoy story time!

    1. Thank you so much :) A lot of the education starts at home doesn't it - I hope my daughter will find it easier to read in the future as we have started learning to love it so early :)

  2. For us books are also very important and I started to read to our son when he was just couple of month old. We haven't needed to have a break but interest for books has hold all the time (our son is now little bit over two years). We have small reading breaks over all day, when ever he wants to have a little break or I want to calm him down. We started with evening story little bit later since he fall asleep earlier while nursing.

    I'm also thinking accessibility for books is really important and books need to be placed so he can pick them self when ever he wants. When he was younger we had only books he couldn't destroy accidently and we haven't lost any books, only some corners have been chewed. Now he already knows that books need to be handled with care and I have dared to place even library books in the shelves that he can read them self if he wants to.

    We have a book shelf in every room and he has usually same books in the same room, of course with variation we get from the library. Book shelves are just normal shelves but he can well find the books he wants from there. He remember excatly what books he has in which place and if he wants to a certain book which is placed in the different room he quickly goes and picks it up. And afterwards it will be placed the same place again.

    So, usually, he wants to read some books in the morning when we wake up and go to the living room. In the kitchen we have some books we have a look if he needs to wait for food or just for fun. We have even some books in the bathroom where we read little bit after a bath. And bedroom has the books we read before we go to sleep.

    We also let our son the read our books. I sometimes take some whatever grown up book with some pictures in and soon our son is in my lap and want to read the same book. And then we look together pictures and talk about book.

    Our son has also big interest for letters and he knows about half of them. For us every letter has a name (P for pappa, T for Tuisku and so on). It's lot of fun to find out what letters different signs have. If he suddenly yells "Two Tuiskus!" I can guess somewhere is a sign where is two letter T.

    I guess the most important thing to get your child interested on books is to show your own interest for them.

    1. That sounds just brilliant - sounds like we have been doing pretty similar things with good success :) I love that your son has access to books everywhere around the house. We currently have all of our books packed away, and most of his books are in his room, but it would be great to dot them around the house a bit more.

      And libraries - of course! We don't use libraries too much as we have a massive book library of our own back home (we've got well over 70 books) but I love the idea of getting refreshed stock every once in a while. I think that keeps kids entertained as well, getting access to new books every once in a while.

  3. Just one more comment about how much children can learn about books...

    Our son was well under one year old when he got a memory game with animal pictures. I gave the cards for him and he was playing with them as under one year old is playing - throwing them, picking them up, putting them on the box and dropping everything on the floor again. While he was playing I was talking with him, telling which animal he was having in the hand, which just fall down and so on. After a week or so I took three cards and asked him to show (he didn't have any words then) which one was for excample a cow. He was able to show the right one. So during that week he played with those cards on the way which looked totally meanless for me he had learned the names for most of the animals. I was totally impressed! You should never underestimate what children can understand and learn!

    1. It really is quite special how much they can learn and how quickly. That is really impressive how quickly and how young he learned those names :) They learn so fast don't they? :) I was also recently really impressed when my daughter, aged two and a bit, could point out pretty much all kinds of exotic animals in the zoo - I had no idea how many she could recognise!

  4. As a book lover, this is my must have nursery furniture. I currently have my toddlers books in a basket on the floor so he can choose which ones he would like to read but this is a much better solution as he'd be able to see the covers. It's such a clever idea. Ali @ Mum in a Nutshell popping over from Tried Tested

    1. Yes definitely - we used to just stack the books at one point as we didn't have a bookcase and it was just such a hassle. So much better now, and our daughter loves her new bookcase.

  5. Great post and lovely photos! I'm a big reader and always love reading to my two girls. Think it's really important to instil an independent love of books into little ones! #TheList

    1. Definitely! Have to start them young :) My daughter absolutely adores reading now, and loves picking books for us to read from her bookcase :)

  6. Love the bookcase!
    Little man has so many books, he is a little bookworm.
    The reading to him at only a few months old has obviously payed off and we go to the library every other week too.
    And now I have my youngest showing a keen interest in his flappy books at one year old.
    They can never have too many books x #Thelist

    1. We've got a silly amount of books too... We have over 80 (At that point I got bored and stopped counting) as we inherited lots from family members. But it is good to sometimes get some fresh ones from library too, there are so many great children's books nowadays!

  7. We needed a slimline bookcase too, as the room is a bit of an awkward shape with the chimney breast. It looks great btw, would definitely recommend it :)


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