18-36 Months



At 18-24 months a child can typically:

  • Learns new words every day.
  • Carries books around and pretends to read.
  • May recognize specific books by their covers.
  • Can develop a book-sharing routine with a parent.
  • Says many words and “tells” stories.
  • Understands that books are handled in certain ways.

By age 2, children have a growing vocabulary of 1,000 to 2,000 words and use words in simple combinations, like “me hungry” and “all gone.”

At 24-36 months a child can typically:

  • Speaks in sentences.
  • Answers and asks simple questions, especially “why” questions.
  • Likes to join in while you read aloud. Imitates sounds, words and motions of characters in books.
  • Labels some items in pictures.
  • Requests adults to read and appreciates an established routine, such as always having story time after bath or before nap time.
  • Follows a storyline and remembers content.
  • Is developing personal preferences and likes hearing favorite books read aloud over and over.

By age 3, children typically listen well to stories being read and enjoy naming objects in pictures. Children at this age may begin making scribbles that look more like printing.

While reading with your toddler:

Toddlers and preschool children benefit from the 3 R’s: Rhythm, rhymes and repetition.

Involve your child while you read together. Toddlers are active learners!

Break the 20 minutes a day reading into smaller segments, perhaps 5 minutes each.

Discussion builds comprehension and communication skills. Ask who, what, why, when, where and how questions. Your child likely enjoys answering questions such as, “What is this animal?”, “How many birds do you see?”, “What color is this car?” and “What do you think will happen next?” Smile, relax and listen. Be sure to allow plenty of time for your child to respond by counting to eight silently in your mind. This is called “Wait Time” and shows respect for your child’s growing thinking and speaking skills.

Other things you can do:
  • Select books with photos and pictures of children doing familiar things (e.g., eating, going to bed, playing).
  • Have sturdy books available within the child’s reach, such as on a low shelf or basket.
  • Choose nonfiction, informational books about food, animals, families, counting, shapes, colors, etc.
  • Begin teaching that books are important and require special care.
  • Read stories with repetitious text, and encourage your child to “chime in” on familiar parts.
  • Talk to your child an average of 30 times an hour.
  • Use nursery rhymes, finger play, and music to enjoy playing with words.
  • Sing the alphabet song during routines, such as while washing hands or getting dressed.
Books for reading with your toddler
  • The Little Red Hen by Bryon Barton
  • Clifford the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell
  • Wibbly Pig Likes Bananas by Mick Inkpen
  • Stellaluna by Jannell Cannon
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin
  • Planes by Byron Barton
  • Five Little Ladybugs by Melanie Gerth
  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault
  • Curious George by H. A. Rey
  • The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
  • 1,2,3 by Tana Hoban
  • Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett