Literacy Helping Your Two-Year-Old Become a Reader

Young children are all "pre-readers" who pick up clues about reading from their environment. This is great news for parents — you already have everything you need to help your child succeed. Two-year-olds have exploding vocabularies and are eager to explore their world with you. Every time you read to and talk with your two-year-old, you build their early literacy skills. As children's author Emilie Buchwald wrote, "Children are made readers on the laps of their parents."

Simple ways to help your child build reading skills:

Read to Your Child

Reading aloud to kids is "the single most important activity for building knowledge for their eventual success in reading," according to a landmark study. When kids sit next to a caring adult and hear engaging stories, they develop positive associations with books and build their vocabulary and comprehension skills. For helpful hints about how to make the most out of read-aloud time, click here.

Something Special for Dad

Daniel is sending a letter to his Dad to show him how much he loves him. Your child can read along with this interactive storybook as Daniel describes how he made and sent the letter.

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Keep Books in Easy Reach

Make it easy for your child to explore books. Keep a basket of books at kid level or in a "book bag" in the car for kids to flip through on rides. Place a couple of books at the foot of the bed for your child to look at first thing in the morning. Make a small reading corner or nook for your child — something as simple as a few pillows, soft blanket and a stack of library books. In other words, make books an ordinary and essential fixture in your home.

Daniel Tiger's Day & Night

Daniel Tiger is learning about morning and bedtime routines! In this app, your child can play and practice brushing teeth, listening to a story and song, getting dressed and eating breakfast with Daniel.

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Fill Your Home with Letters

To help young children become comfortable with letters, keep a few alphabet sets around the house that your child can touch and manipulate, such as alphabet blocks, foam letters for the bathtub, ABC puzzles, magnetic refrigerator letters, alphabet board books or letter stamps.

Cookie Monster's Alphabet Soup

Cookie Monster loves alphabet soup! Your child can make simple words from noodle letters and sound them out with Cookie Monster in this click-along game.

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Play "What Else?"

Before kids recognize letters, they can recognize sounds that make up words. Play simple games to help children hear how the beginning of a word sounds. This can be as simple as saying, "I like ba-ba-ba-bananas and ba-ba-ba-baseball. What else begins with ba-ba-ba?"


Duck is swimming around his pond looking for WordThings. Your child can explore the pond with duck to find the words.

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Finish That Rhyme

Nursery rhymes aren't just catchy — they are amazing tools for helping kids recognize rhyme and "end sounds." Here are a few rhymes to teach your child:

  • The Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • Hickory, Dickory Dock
  • Mary Had a Little Lamb
  • Baa, Baa Black Sheep
  • Humpty Dumpty
  • Hey Diddle Diddle
  • Jack and Jill

After your child is familiar with a few rhymes, pause when you get to the final word in a line and let your child finish it. For example: "Hickory, dickory _____; The mouse ran up the _______."

Play I Spy With a Rhyming Twist

You can put a new twist on a classic game with this fun I-Spy rhyming game. Can your child find something in the room that rhymes frog?

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Be a Role Model

Finally, don't forget to be a reader and writer yourself. One of the most effective ways to help children become readers and writers is to show them through your own example that you value literacy — and that reading and writing have useful purposes. Keep books and writing materials in the home, and talk to your child about what you are doing when you read and write.

My Very Own Birthday Party Book

In this fun birthday craft, you can help your child find, draw, and label parts of a birthday party to assemble into a book.

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Raise a Reader with Sesame Street

On this very special street, children learn early language and literacy skills such as letter knowledge, vocabulary, and reading and writing fundamentals.

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Activity Finder: Learn With Your Two-Year-Old

Explore our Age-by-Age Guide: