Think about when you're most proud of your young child. Is it when they conquer a skill you've been working on for a while? Is it when they use a word larger than you thought they could understand (or even a word they did—but shouldn't—have picked up from you *wink*)?
For young children, small steps in learning eventually become their academic development. Their ability to learn now will help them learn once they're in school. Reading can help your toddler develop those early academic skills.
Did you receive children's books as gifts when you were pregnant or after your baby was born? Keep those books out and accessible for your child to pick up. Flip through them together, looking at and talking about the pictures. Ask your child questions:
These questions encourage your child to interact with the book, develop cause and effect critical thinking skills, and use their imagination about what could happen outside of the written story.
Once your child starts to develop an interest in books, head to yard sales and the library for inexpensive ways to expand their reading options. You can even use newspaper comics and magazines.
By including your child while reading books—asking questions during the story, pointing out details in the illustrations, and prompting your child to share their own version of the story—you are encouraging academic development in your child and setting them on the path to success.