What I Learned From Tracking My Toddler’s Reading

My library’s Summer Reading Challenge takes place from 1 June to 31 August and requires you to read ten books, or for ten hours. When I first learnt of the challenge back in May, and found out that even babies and toddlers could participate in the challenge, I knew that I would sign up my daughter for it. I also knew that she read about ten books a day, let alone over three months, but I wasn’t sure about the exact numbers. It just felt like we read a lot (she is such a fan of reading that she writes book reviews over on Baby Librarians, with just a bit of help from her mum). So I decided to track her reading for a week. This is what I found.

Notes: The toddler in question was 19 months old at the time of logging. All books logged are ones that she brought to me or my husband for us to read to her, and I didn’t pick any books that week. This is all her tastes. Sometimes we read books several times in a row. And sometimes she will read the book herself.

13 May (11 different books; 19 books total including rereads)

Morning

Baby Loves Structural Engineering by Ruth Spiro, illustrated by Irene Chan. Core concepts of structural engineering aimed at the toddler crowd. Short, simple sentences (that aren’t dumbed down) and bright cheerful illustrations.

Chu’s Day (x2) by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Adam Rex. When a panda sneezes, bad things happen. The usual suspects don’t make him sneeze but then…

Touch and Feel Counting Book. Rhyming sentences describe some of the objects on each page, and you count things from one to five. I have no idea why my toddler loves this book so much.

Goodnight, Sleep Tight by Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek. Awesome bedtime book with nursery rhymes incorporated into the story.

Afternoon

Will Sheep Sleep? By Hilary Leung. Sheep goes through the motions of bedtime but none of the usual bedtime tricks help him sleep. What does? (answer: it wasn’t the cry it out method).

The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr (half read). Sophie and her mum invite a tiger to their afternoon tea. He eats all their food.

Baby Loves Coding (x3 plus once on her own) by Ruth Spiro, illustrated by Irene Chan. Another in the ‘Baby Loves Science…’ series, this time explaining the basic concepts of programming.

My Art Book of Sleep (x3) by Shana Gozansky. Lyrical prose is paired with fine art and takes us through the stages of sleep. A beautiful and wonderful book.

Baby Loves Structural Engineering (x2) by Ruth Spiro, illustrated by Irene Chan.

Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek. We know where all the other sheep are, but the green one seems to be missing.

Evening

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss. She read this one with Grandpa. I actually have never read this book in its entirety and am finding it difficult to summarise in a sentence. I presume it’s about green eggs and ham. How did the eggs turn green? Are they mouldy?

Baby Night Night (Indestructibles). One of the Indestructiblr books — books made of a plastic-y material that allegedly cannot be destroyed by little hands and teeth. This one is a bedtime one.

14 May (10 different books, 22 total read)

Morning

This Little Piggy (x6) finger puppet book. The ‘This little piggy’ nursery rhyme has been turned into a finger puppet board book.

Baby Giraffe (x2) finger puppet book. Another finger puppet board book, this time about Little Giraffe. He runs and plays and does giraffe things and I’m pretty sure my kid likes this finger puppet books just because she likes biting the puppet.

The House in the Night (x4) by Susan Marie Swanson, illustrated by Beth Krommes. Gorgeous and poetic book about order and night and bedtime.

Mighty Mighty Construction Site sound book by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. A full day at the construction site! The bestselling picture book is now a board book sound book, and the sounds aren’t annoying at all, which is unusual in a children’s product.

Chu’s Day (x3) by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Adam Rex.

My Art Book of Sleep by Shana Gozansky.

Goodnight, Sleep Tight by Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek.

This and That by Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek. A great rhyming bedtime book about two mice and their adventures through stories of this and stories of that.

Touch and Feel Counting Book (x2).

Hide and Sleep by Lizi Boyd. A delightful board book that takes you through a day in the forest and all the creatures that live within.

15 May (6 different books, 8 total read)

Morning

This Little Piggy finger puppet book.

Farm Animals (x2) by Xavier Deneux.

Goodnight, Sleep Tight by Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek.

Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek.

Each Peach Pear Plum (x2) by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. A classic ‘I spy’ rhyming book featuring a full cast of familiar nursery rhyme characters.

The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson, illustrated by Beth Krommes.

16 May (10 different books, 13 total read)

Morning

The House in the Night (x2) by Susan Marie Swanson, illustrated by Beth Krommes.

Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg.

Goodnight, Sleep Tight by Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek.

Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey. A charming story about a selfish pug and his long-suffering housemate, Trevor the sausage dog.

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler (half read). A mouse takes a stroll through the deep dark wood… And tricks a bunch of predatory animals into not eating it.

Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion, illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham. Harry the dog hates baths, so he runs away from home to avoid them.

My Art Book of Sleep (x3) by Shana Gozansky.

Seek and Count by Yusuke Yonezu. Another counting book, this one up to ten! This is a lift-the-flap book and it’s great.

Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek.

Please Mr Panda by Steve Antony. A panda who doesn’t like doughnuts is trying to sell/give them to several ungrateful animals. The only animal with manners gets all the doughnuts and ends up with a hardcore sugar crash.

17 May (8 different books, 10 total reads)

Morning

Rosa Loves Cars by Jessica Spanyol. Rosa and her friends play with cars. There isn’t actually a cohesive plot to this one.

Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek.

Ruby’s Sword by Jacquelin Veissid, illustrated by Paola Zakimi. A lovely and charming picture book about sibling relationships and the power of imagination.

This and That (x2) by Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek.

Chu’s Day (x2) by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Adam Rex.

Chu’s Day at the Beach by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Adam Rex. The panda with the dangerous sneezes returns, and this time he goes to the beach.

Afternoon

Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg.

Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin. A farmer’s cows have learnt to type and they start making demands that the farmer refuses to give in to. Eventually, the farmer and the cows reach a compromise.

18 May (5 different books, 6 total reads)

Morning

Mighty Mighty Construction Site sound book by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld.

Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin.

Touch and Feel Counting Book.

Press Here (x2) by Herve Tullet. The bestselling interactive picture book is released as a board book!

Mr Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham. Mr Gumpy has a boat and he takes children and animals with him for an afternoon jaunt. A very fun read-aloud book.

19 May (6 different books, 9 total reads)

Morning

Touch and Feel Counting Book.

Mighty Mighty Construction Site sound book by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld.

Mr Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham.

Press Here (x2) by Herve Tullet.

Yummy Yucky (x2) by Leslie Patricelli. Foods and not-foods are labelled as either yummy or yucky.

Evening

Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See? (x2) By Bill Martin Jr, illustrated by Eric Carle.  Animals see other animals. Basically. This is a great classic with wonderful illustrations and is a fun chant-y kind of book to read aloud.


After a week of consciously tracking my toddler’s reading, this is what I found:

  • Most of her reading occurred in the morning. The routine at the time was eat breakfast and, once she was done, she would bring books over to the table, then drag me to the reading spot by Cuddle Bear, and we would read (I wasn’t necessarily done with my breakfast, so there was a lot of cold tea and soggy cereal).
  • Most of the books we read were pretty short. The longer stories were only half-read, at least for this week of logging.
  • She definitely has tastes and preferences, and there were some books we read over and over (see also some of my favourite board books to read a thousand times in a row). Her tastes were not always the same as mine.
  • Most of the books on the list are ones that are excellent for reading aloud, with great rhyme and rhythm and fun illustrations.
  • Book preferences and reading patterns have their seasons. As I write this post in July, one and a half months after logging, we no longer read as much in the morning, or have reading sessions where we read ten books in one go. We now read only about five to ten books total a day, and a lot of the titles that are in this log are not read as much. There are other books now that are read a lot instead.
  • Mem Fox’s books remain a constant. Those were the first books we read to her as a baby, they appear a lot on the log, and they are books we still read now.
  • And yes, we definitely did not need three months to complete the Summer Reading Challenge. When the challenge finally opened in June, my toddler completed it in three days (and it only took that long because I had to figure out how to use the tracking app).
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